Jan 10 (Reuters) - Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuettl has hailed his squad’s mentality and character for how they bounced back from October’s 9-0 humbling by Leicester City that threatened to derail their Premier League campaign.
Leicester’s win over 10-man Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium was the biggest ever top flight away win in English soccer and it left the Saints in the relegation zone with the worst goal difference in the league.
However, Southampton have tightened up considerably since that humiliation, conceding only 13 goals in 11 games, and have moved up to 12th in the standings ahead of Saturday’s trip to Leicester.
“We had a moment we will never forget,” Hasenhuettl told reporters on Thursday. “Now, two months later, you must say that this can be an important result for us, especially when we show the right reaction and that’s exactly what happened.
“What the team showed after this result, where we knew it was an absolute disaster for us, was absolutely outrageous — from the mentality, character and fighting back to a successful way (of playing).
“When you look now at how the team is playing, they look completely different...I cannot praise them enough for the reaction they showed. Maybe thank you for this evening because it was an important one for us.”
Leicester are second in the standings with 45 points and Hasenhuettl said that the Saints would put in a performance that would prove that the result in the reverse fixture against Brendan Rodgers’ side was just a one-off.
“Leicester are a very strong side, Rodgers does a fantastic job with his team,” the Austrian manager added. “They have a clear philosophy and very flexible in their shape. They’re tactically well-organised.
“It’s not a coincidence they are so high in the table. To take something against them is not easy and we want to show we can do it better than in the first game.”
Hasenhuettl also said that full back Yan Valery is the only doubt for the game as he continues to recover from a viral infection. (Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)