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Claude Puel stresses importance of West Brom game on Saturday

Defeat will cost Southampton a top eight finish says the Saints coach

Southampton v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Southampton manager Claude Puel conceded that defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday would dash any hopes of a top-eight finish in the Premier League.

Saints are presently positioned ninth in the Premier League table, trailing the Baggies by seven points with two games in hand.

Following a win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday evening, Puel wants to maintain some positive momentum on Saturday—challenging his side to escape The Hawthorns with at least a point in his press conference on Thursday.

"It will be important to take points at West Brom, or one point minimum for our ambitions for the end of the season. The win against Crystal Palace was very important in terms of the result because many teams behind us also took points.

"I was happy yesterday because with all those scenarios the team kept a good spirit and kept going always, and in difficulties they gave a good answer. It will be the same against West Brom and with the schedule afterwards too."

Saints' apparent ambitions to earn a position in the top eight appear to be as good as it can get right now—some way off the sixth-place finish of the 2015/16 campaign which saw Southampton automatically qualify for the group stages of the Europa League.

West Brom have impressed under manager Tony Pulis, showing the kind of resolve typical of clubs managed by the Welsh coach. Saints' chances of getting a result have been dented with Oriol Romeu suspended and injury doubts for the likes of Manolo Gabbiadini, Ryan Bertrand, Sofiane Boufal and Steven Davis.