Ronald Koeman says the next two games could be pivotal in Southampton’s search for a European place.
Saints travel to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday before hosting Crystal Palace three days later as they look to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat by Liverpool.
And manager Koeman is hoping for a strong statement from his team as they go into the final third of the campaign, starting against a Baggies side in good form under new boss Tony Pulis.
“We know that in the next two games we play a lot for our possibilities for a high position on the table at the end of the season,” he told Southampton’s official YouTube channel.
“I think we’ve had a good week of training. Of course we were disappointed [to lose to Liverpool] because I think we deserved a better result, but anyway it’s time to go on.
“Normally that [disappointment] is for one or two days at the beginning of the week. Then you see the faces of the players, and the laughs are coming back and then we know that we’d like to win the next one.
“It’s always after losing we like to play as fast as possible to play a better game and to get a better result.
“West Bromwich, in the last few weeks, have done well,” Koeman continued. “They’ve had a lot of clean sheets and a very strong organisation in defence.
“If there is coming in a new manager, maybe he changes a little bit the style of play and the players. When he came in, I think it became not easy to beat them.
“They are really, really strong at set-pieces – they’re the team who has the highest number of goals from set-pieces, which will be a difficult part for this Saturday.”
Koeman will welcome back Ryan Bertrand into his squad after a three-game suspension but the fixture is likely to come too soon for Toby Alderweireld, who is likely to return to the squad next Tuesday.
Nevertheless, the boss is likely to have the strongest squad available to him for some months with only long-term absentees Jay Rodriguez and Emmanuel Mayuka in the treatment room.
“That’s important for possibilities of continuing strongly, and in that case we need all of the players,” said Koeman.