Ralph Hasenhüttl believes his players will have felt the benefit of an unexpected break, as they prepare to face a Leicester City team that the Saints boss has great admiration for.

Saints have not played since their 1-0 victory over champions Liverpool on January 4th, after their third-round FA Cup tie against Shrewsbury, which had been scheduled for last weekend, was postponed following a number of positive Covid-19 tests at the League One club.

Following a hectic Christmas schedule, and with another busy run ahead – the coming three weeks are each set to feature midweek games – Hasenhüttl had no complaints about a gap in the schedule.

"It was not so bad for us to have it," he said. "It felt a little bit like an international break for everybody, also for the international players – they haven't had a break since I don't know when, so it was definitely good for them also. We used it for recovering and for getting some energy, and now we are back in training and back in business.

"The atmosphere is good. We need to step up immediately, build-up on the good defence that we had in the last games, also being more clinical when we have chances in front, and playing with the ball, I think against the next opponent this is also important. A good performance is always necessary to take points against Leicester."

With the Foxes again flying high – they enter the latest round of matches fourth in the table, three points ahead of Saints – Hasenhüttl had praise for the job the club as a whole, as well as manager Brendan Rodgers, has done.

"It's fantastic," he said. "Since they have become champions, this club was definitely developing and took advantage of this famous year they had.

"They have signed very good players and a very good manager, who is driven also by making this team better every day and this makes them strong. It is always tactically a very interesting game I think."

Saints have won 2-1 at King Power Stadium on both visits under Hasenhüttl and, with the team's current unbeaten away run now standing at seven matches, he is confident of his side being able to turn in another good performance there.

"We had two strange games there so far, but we know we have also a good record on the road so far, with seven unbeaten games I think," he said.

"We go there with self-confidence, with hopefully a good mixture of bravery and coolness and then we should make a good game there hopefully."