Jack Cork believes Saints are ready to fire themselves to Premier League safety after a successful team bonding trip.
Manager Nigel Adkins broke the monotony of the training ground last week by taking his squad to the luxury Four Seasons hotel in Hampshire ahead of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Swansea.
The excursion seemed to do the trick, as Saints turned in one of their best displays of the season with a performance worthy of three points, only to be denied victory by yet another defensive error.
Despite that mistake costing them a much-needed win, Cork believes the trip, which featured a round of clay pigeon shooting, has helped the team refocus on the battle ahead.
“We went to a hotel about an hour away,” said the midfielder, who returned from injury at the weekend to make his first league appearance of the campaign. “We had a bit of training at Aldershot the first day. We went clay pigeon shooting and had a bit of team bonding.
“Punchy (Jason Puncheon) must have cheated because he got the best score. I was alright, I was in his group. He was just a lot better than everyone.
“I’ve done clay pigeon shooting before, but not with such a lot of lads. All the lads loved it. There was a prize. Emmanuel Mayuka lost and he had to be Punchy’s slave – he had to get his dinner for him and stuff like that.”
Cork added: “It was good for the lads to get our heads round it. It gave us another chance to think about tactics and get our heads really on the game, go back to our rooms and get our heads down.”
Saints’ miserable start to the season has left the club languishing in 19th place in the Premier League table after 11 games, which has in turn put strain on manager Nigel Adkins’ position.
The pressure the club are under will only be talked up further this week, as they prepare for a trip to bottom-of-the-table QPR on Saturday.
A loss for either club could have a profound impact, with both Adkins and his counterpart Mark Hughes fighting to save their jobs.
Cork, however, claims the players don’t feel under any pressure.
“We talked about it quite a lot over the last week or so,” he said. “There’s no pressure on us now, we just have to go out there and play how we know we can play.
“Hopefully we can be free, enjoy playing and that’ll lead to some good results.
“We’re down the bottom but I don’t think there’s any pressure on us at the minute. As long as we can keep playing well, hopefully that’ll get us up the table.”
Addressing the speculation surrounding Adkins’ status, Cork added: “We know what’s going on outside, but I think everyone chooses not to listen to it and we get on with our own things.
“If we let what’s going on outside come in and interfere with us it will affect us. Everyone just knows we shouldn’t let it happen.”
Cork, sidelined this season by an ankle injury and then a knee problem, admitted it had been frustrating not being able to play a part in the Premier League campaign before Swansea, when he turned in an excellent display.
“It was horrible,” he said. “After the summer with the Olympics to come back and get an injury and then another injury and having to watch all the lads play in the Premier League after having worked so hard last year for it was horrible. I was fully behind the lads and hopefully I can take my chance now.”