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Claude Puel: 'Progress is my priority'

Claude Puel says that he's ignoring the Premier League table at the moment and stressed that improving every player his the priority.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Claude Puel says that he is ignoring the current Premier League table and has stressed that his priority is improving every player at the club.

The Saints are unbeaten at home in all competitions since February when tomorrow's opponents, Chelsea, beat them 2-1.

Southampton currently lie in ninth place after picking up 11 points from the previous 15 available, but Puel stressed that the most important thing for the club is to improve and play good football.

He said: "We can see the table, between teams are a few points. A good result or a bad result can lose three or four places.

"For the moment, it’s not important. The most important is to make progress.

"We are lucky to have many different players with different qualities and this is important for the dynamic of the group. It’s very interesting to improve every player. I think many players can improve.

"It’s important to continue this work and to stay concentrated on every competition. We can continue the development of the players for the future of Southampton."

One player that Puel will be eager to help improve is record signing Sofiane Boufal who scored a sensational goal on his first start for the club in the EFL Cup on Wednesday.

The Saints boss has insisted that, despite his impressive St. Mary's bow, that supporters must be patient with the attacker as he comes back from his five month layoff.

"Boufal scored a fantastic goal. It was an important goal because it turned into a good result.

"It’s important for the squad and it’s important for him after five months missing out. It was important for his confidence to score this goal.

"All is not perfect because it is just the start of his comeback. We must be patient with him because he can come back step-by-step."

Puel believes that Saints are coming up against title contenders on Sunday afternoon.

Antonio Conte's Chelsea have played with a back three this season and the Southampton manager has demanded that his players adapt to play against different systems.

"I think since the beginning of the season, we know it’s a great team with the capacity to win the title.

"It’s a great team with great players in a very good level in this moment. It’s a good thing for us to work, play and learn against this team. It’s a fantastic game on Sunday for my players.

"We try to train every time to work different possibilities against different systems and opponents. I want my players to have the capacity to adapt."

Southampton will be without a host of first team players for the clash against Chelsea with Alex McCarthy, Matt Targett, Cedric Soares, Jake Hesketh, Shane Long and Jay Rodriguez all sidelined whilst Ryan Bertrand could feature against his former club.