Jack Stephens has called on Saints to deliver “a strong send-off” for supporters at St Mary’s on Sunday for the visit of newly crowned champions Manchester City.
After the tension, nerves and ultimately relief of Tuesday night’s potentially decisive victory over Swansea, the defender is keen to end the campaign on a high and guarantee Premier League safety once and for all in front of a sell-out home crowd.
“Things have settled down a little bit since Tuesday night,” he said from Staplewood this week. “We’ve been back in training making sure that we have our heads on for the final game against City on Sunday.
“There’s certainly that element of relief around the place, and a lot of pressure has been lifted off our shoulders but we’ve still got a job to do on Sunday and we’re positive that we can finish the job. There’s no better test to end a campaign than against the champions.”
For Stephens, the emotional celebrations that welcomed the final whistle in both Southampton and South Wales were richly deserved for Saints fans and this weekend’s season finale marks another opportunity to repay their faith.
“It’s been tough for everyone involved with the club be it fans, staff or players. I understand their frustrations over the course of the season but we saw on Tuesday that they are all still with us and they’ve stuck behind us the whole way.
“The momentum from the Bournemouth win gave us a boost at Everton where we were unlucky to lose. To then come back on Tuesday showed that we are together and behind each other.
“Hopefully that connection will be just as strong on Sunday which I’m sure it will be. I think it’s important that we put on a good performance for the fans. In the last home game of the year, it’s always nice to end in a positive way. We want to give them a proper send-off.”