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Southampton need to prove they are worthy of top-10 finish – Ralph Hasenhuttl

Ralph Hasenhuttl takes Southampton along the south coast to Brighton on Sunday (David Davies/PA)
Ralph Hasenhuttl takes Southampton along the south coast to Brighton on Sunday (David Davies/PA)

Ralph Hasenhuttl says the time has come for Southampton to prove they are worthy of a top-10 Premier League finish ahead of a run of fixtures against their nearest rivals.

Saints’ aspirations of ending in the upper half of the division were dealt a blow by Thursday evening’s uninspiring 2-0 loss at relegation-threatened Burnley.

A host of clubs are jostling for position in midtable, with Hasenhuttl’s men in the mix alongside Leicester, Brighton, Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa.

Southampton will face four of those sides in the final month of the season, beginning with Sunday’s trip along the south coast to take on Graham Potter’s Seagulls.

“We have now all the teams around us,” said Saints boss Hasenhuttl, whose team also have upcoming appointments with Palace, Brentford and Leicester.

“If you are stronger than they then you deserve to be there; if not then it’s a very simple question.

“We have to play differently, better for sure, otherwise we have no chance. I’m sure that we can do better than (against Burnley).

“I will look at what I’ve seen. We don’t have a lot of time to give them a chance to show a reaction.”

Just five points separate ninth-placed Leicester and Aston Villa in 15th, albeit each of those clubs have games in hand on the sides sandwiched in between.

Southampton have 39 points from 33 games – only a point and three places below weekend opponents Albion and two points behind the Foxes.

Saints travelled to Turf Moor buoyed by ending a five-match winless run with last Saturday’s surprise 1-0 success over Champions League-chasing Arsenal.

Yet the joy of upsetting the Gunners was abruptly ended after first-half goals from defenders Connor Roberts and Nathan Collins boosted managerless Burnley’s survival hopes.

Hasenhuttl acknowledged his players fell short in a number of areas against the Clarets and is committed to resolving the issues.

“We know what you have to expect when you come to Turf Moor and that was exactly what we got,” said the Austrian.

“And we didn’t find the right answer on the pitch: physically not strong enough, with the ball not calm enough.

“When you want to create something against them then you have to be brave with better decisions than we had.

“Our game was far away from what we wanted to do Why these things happened – we have to look at that.”