Hughes praises his back line

By SFC Media time Sun 21 Oct Bournemouth v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson | Jack Stephens

Manager Mark Hughes praised the work of his back-four, including a new centre-back pairing, in the team's 0-0 draw at AFC Bournemouth.

Hughes explained that he may have raised some eyebrows by making a change in that area and partnering Wesley Hoedt with Jack Stephens – a combination not seen in a four-man defence this term – but he revealed the work they had done together at Staplewood over the international break had convinced him to start them.

Indeed, right-back Cédric was the only player who had been away with his country to be included in the four.

"The pleasing part was the way the guys embraced what we talked about during the week," said Hughes of his team as a whole, following a performance that saw them control much of the game.

"We did a lot of work with the back four, with three of the back four today, and I think probably some were a little bit surprised with the selection in terms of personnel, but it was a consequence of really the good work that had been done in the week and I felt confident that Wes, Ryan and Jack understood totally what we're trying to do and I think that helped the rest of the guys, because they were able to press higher up the field.

"We had good numbers and were always in connection with each other, and that's what we were trying to achieve."

Hughes was also pleased with the approach his side showed going forward, even if they were ultimately unable to convert the chances they created, with Stuart Armstrong and Manolo Gabbiadini both having good opportunities late on.

"They've come from people getting out in wide positions and getting good balls into the box," said Hughes.

"We've talked about trying to get more service to our front men. It's important if we get in good areas we shouldn't ignore the actual ball into the box.

"Clearly, we want to up our numbers in terms of crosses and good-quality balls into the box.

"The clear-cut chances came from good deliveries from wide areas, so that's something we're going to build on and make sure we've always got in our game."

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