Football - Pochettino sees the positives

Mauricio Pochettino hopes the positivity surrounding Jay Rodriguez, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert's England call-ups can be harnessed for the betterment of high-flying Southampton.

PA Sport Report

Just three years on from plying their trade in the third tier, victory in Saturday's home clash with Hull would make this Saints' best ever start to a top-flight season, trumping the 1983-84 campaign when they finished runners-up.

Such fine form saw Pochettino named manager of the month award for October and led three of his players to be called up for England's upcoming friendlies with Chile and Germany.

The inclusion of Rodriguez, Lallana and Lambert in Roy Hodgson's squad has shed even more light on the good work being done on the south coast and is praise Pochettino hopes to utilise effectively.

"We have to be intelligent in actually managing all of these plaudits for these three players that have been called up," the former Argentina international said.

"We need to be intelligent, we need to keep our feet on the ground, keep our expectations in check.

"We have to be able to take those compliments not in a negative way, but use them as a way to boost our confidence.

"So we are in the headlines now, we appreciate that, but that doesn't change anything.

"We have to keep on working as hard as we have been. Our main focus is to win tomorrow against Hull. There is nothing else.

"From 10am today until 5pm tomorrow when the game ends, our main focus is Hull. There is nothing else that is going to be on our minds.

"After that, the players can start thinking about their national teams and all of that.

"We have to think as a team now, think as a collective, then later on they can think individually about their own call-ups."

Pochettino was speaking at Southampton's training ground, where a host of players have honed their skills in recent years.

Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all came through the club's much-vaunted academy and 12 players from the youth system have featured in Saints' matchday squad already this season.

Lallana, Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse are amongst those and there is no sign of the well of talent drying up anytime soon.

"I am very happy with the project that has been in place here, the ideas that are being developed here," Pochettino said of the focus on home-grown talent.

"It's been four years in the making and we are working very hard and I feel very lucky to be here.

"I fully believe in the future of English football, in the future of young English players.

"I admire English football. A year ago I admired English football and now I have been here I admire it even more. I am happy and I consider myself lucky to be here."

Pochettino's arrival, albeit in controversial circumstances, has seen Southampton kick on again after the back-to-back promotions secured under predecessor Nigel Adkins.

Rodriguez and Lallana, in particular, have improved since the Argentinian's appointment in January, yet he is quick to move praise away from himself.

"I think the players are the main actors here, they fully deserve the credit, not me," Pochettino said.

"It's all down to the amazing structure here in place already at Southampton. The players work very hard and they are the main protagonists here so they fully deserve the credit.

"I think the full squad has progressed a lot, not just the three of them.

"The whole squad has grown and improved a lot in the eight or nine months we have been here.

"I am very happy with the collective progress of the full squad."

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