Southampton boss Ruben Selles says his players still “know that they’re good enough” to avoid relegation as the Premier League’s bottom side prepare to host title-chasing Manchester City.
This has been a miserable campaign for all connected to Saints, who sacked Ralph Hasenhuttl after a stuttering start and managed to reach new lows under divisive Nathan Jones.
First-team coach Selles was subsequently promoted to manager until the end of a season that will result in relegation unless Southampton quickly turn around a four-match winless run.
Saints lost 1-0 at relegation rivals West Ham last weekend and the team are four points from safety ahead of Saturday evening’s visit from City.
“We were disappointed with the result,” Selles said of the West Ham loss.
“I think we put the performance there, it’s just some bits that we need to be better. This one per cent that we talk about.
“I see a team that wants to do things, I see a team that wants to work hard to get the result, a positive environment.
“Yeah, we didn’t have a win in the last four games but we have some good performances, we were really close in couple of games, and then we keep going.”
Asked if he still believes there is enough in the dressing room to survive, the Saints boss said: “Well, the results are always key, unfortunately!
“I mean, we have always been there and we have the target to put good performances on the pitch and then try to win football matches and be there.
“I think in the dressing room there is still faith because they know that they’re good enough to do it and then we are still there and we’re going to fight for it.”
Southampton fans winced when pictures emerged showing City sharpshooter Erling Haaland had returned to training, although they have already kept him quiet once this season.
In fact, City did not even manage a shot on target as Saints stunned Pep Guardiola’s men 2-0 in January’s Carabao Cup quarter-final at St Mary’s.
“It’s not especially that game that we’re going to use,” Selles said.
“That game was great, that game showed we can do something but I think both teams are in a completely different point right now.
“We are using more the approach that we have been doing in the last two months and the approach that they have the last two months also.
“That game they played with some different players and expected players that we have for the weekend.
“So, we know (that) we can do it. This team did it in the past, also for not only this season in the cup but also in Premier League.
“We have some examples in the past, so we will try to prepare a good gameplan based on the things that we can do right now.”
Mohammed Salisu and Che Adams featured in January’s win against City but will be unavailable this weekend.
“Unfortunately, Salisu and Che will not make it for the game,” Selles said. “After the situation in the last week, they have not been able to join us in training.
“Armel (Bella-Kotchap) is still a question mark for us and Tino Livramento is doing great for us in training. but is still not able to compete after one year out of football.
“Juan Larios is a long-term injury, so those are the news from the team.”