‘Excited’ — Every word Martin said as Saints return to action with Middlesbrough test

Every word Southamp­ton man­ag­er Rus­sell Mar­tin said ahead of fac­ing Mid­dles­brough in the return to Cham­pi­onship action.

How are Brooks and Bednarek after the play­off on Tues­day?

RM: Jan­ny took a kick in the first game for Poland before the Wales game.

He man­aged to get through the game as good as he could. He also felt a bit of a virus, the same as Brooksy.

They have both been assessed yes­ter­day and look rea­son­ably good. We have to make sure we are com­plete­ly right, but they are both avail­able for tomor­row.

They will both be involved. I think Broosky feels he could have played on a bit, but also under­stands that he wasn’t feel­ing at his best.

He has been ill for three or four days in bed. Luck­i­ly for us, both are ready to be involved tomor­row.

Rhys (Owen, head of con­di­tion­ing) was at the game and text us to say they are both off. Thank­ful­ly it’s pos­i­tive news.

And every­one else, with Walk­er-Peters and Fras­er back in train­ing?

RM: Every­one is good. Every­one is in a good place. Kyle has looked. Wee Man and Kyle have looked like they’ve nev­er been away.

They are now avail­able for the run-in, which is fan­tas­tic. Big Ross Stew­art is back on the grass doing light work and will slow­ly be rein­te­grat­ed back into the group.

Like I’ve said before, we shouldn’t expect too much from him. It’s great to have him back in amongst things.

Have you got every­thing you want­ed out of the break? 

RM: They have done some bril­liant work. The guys who have been here while the oth­ers went away for inter­na­tion­als have been great. 

We have enjoyed a bit of time on the train­ing pitch and they have had a bit of bal­ance as well with rest and recov­ery.

Some went away for a few days and did their thing, oth­ers just spent time with their fam­i­ly. Adam Arm­strong’s part­ner has had a baby.

Huge con­grat­u­la­tions to them, that’s real­ly nice. It has been a good bal­ance between work­ing real­ly hard and a bit of rest as well. 

Is there a bit of unknown for man­agers after a lengthy break like this? 

RM: We have looked at what we felt we need­ed to pri­ori­tise after the last few games. 

We played some bril­liant foot­ball but con­ced­ed too many goals. It’s the same process but there is no game to get evi­dence of the work done.

We have worked real­ly hard and have kept rein­forc­ing the stuff they’re doing, and the rest will take care of itself. 

We also want­ed to keep the feel­ing we had in the group and that is real­ly dif­fi­cult when you have lots of play­ers away.

It is going to be a real­ly inter­est­ing and busy five weeks and I think every­one is real­ly excit­ed about it. 

Does it focus every­one to have a 10-game block in five weeks? 

RM: You get so close to the end goal and every­thing you want to achieve. Every game you tick off now, you get clos­er and clos­er to it. 

Crazy things will hap­pen in the league between now and the end of the sea­son. There will be some strange games and strange results.

We have to take care of our­selves. The beau­ti­ful thing for us is that we have been writ­ten off by every­one. 

We have aver­aged two points a game and we have been com­plete­ly writ­ten off which is real­ly inter­est­ing and shows the qual­i­ty of the oth­er teams. 

We will take each day as it comes and we have a tough one against Mid­dles­brough, who are in good form — espe­cial­ly away from home.

They have a good man­ag­er who I respect a lot, Michael Car­rick, and I think they have been unlucky if you look at the data.

They prob­a­bly should be a bit high­er up than they are. It’s a tough game but they all are in this league. I am real­ly excit­ed for this chal­lenge. 

After a bit of an extend­ed break, we need a result and it’s a big week­end for us.

Is there a par­tic­u­lar rea­son Mid­dles­brough’s away record is bet­ter than their home? 

RM: I could­n’t tell you, they have changed shape recent­ly and it’s worked quite well but they are flex­i­ble.

I think you’d have to ask Michael that, I don’t know why it is but when you watch the games they are quite con­sis­tent.

There’s no dif­fer­ence in set­up or per­for­mance and they have been good.