Radhi Jaïdi has called on his players to end their long and highly-impressive season in style in the coming weeks, with just a trip to West Brom and a final-day clash with Sunderland to settle before the end of the season.
Saints face the Baggies first on Thursday afternoon and Jaïdi has preached calm and composure to his squad, demanding the same level of performance and focus that have carried them to this position, within two wins of the PL2 Division 2 title.
“My main message to the boys is to go and perform and deliver the best performance they can,” he said. “It’s just as important as any other game we have played this season and the performance will take care of the result.”
The Tunisian achieved hero status as a player following promotion from League One all those years ago and the former Saints defender is eager for his young group to “achieve something special” for themselves in these final two fixtures.
“From my point of view, the experiences as a player give you an idea of how the boys will think and feel in these kinds of situations. As a coach, you use that to send the right message.
“The boys are handling the pressure really well at the moment, they have a lot of excitement and desire to achieve something. Hopefully that will be reflected in what they put on the pitch on Thursday.
“They are a group with some very good individuals too who want to achieve and perform for each other. It’s been a long but very enjoyable season and the boys have matured and improved a lot.
“We are looking forward to the next two games and both are really important – as everyone knows – for the top of the table challenge.”
A single Marcus Barnes goal separated the two teams at St Mary's back in November, a lifetime away for Jaïdi who has overseen the assimilation of five of his U23s squad into the first-team setup since then.
With boys stepping up admirably from the U18s and the wins continuing to follow across five competitions this season, two more winning performances would add the gloss and just reward to a highly productive campaign.
“A lot of things have changed since the start of the season and all of them positively. Firstly, we have five U23s players with the first team, playing and training on a daily basis.
“We then had 18s boys that we watched and felt they could perform at a higher level too and they have. We are always in that process of development, giving opportunities to the younger boys and supporting the first team. As ever, this is a chance to express themselves and take the opportunity to achieve something this season.”