JAMES Ward-Prowse is targeting improved home form as Saints look to catapult themselves back into contention for a top seven place and possible European football.

It has been an inconsistent start to the campaign for Saints, but coming out of the latest international break they have what looks to be a season-defining run of games.

Three of their next four matches are at St Mary’s against Newcastle, West Bromwich Albion and Burnley. The other game is a short trip down the south coast to face Brighton.

With seventh place wide open following Everton’s poor start, Saints should have as a good a chance as any to make that position their own - having been in and around it for the past three years.

But, with much harder fixtures on the horizon after this run, Saints are too aware of the need to garner points now.

“It is an important period,” said Ward-Prowse.

“We want to make St Mary’s a fortress and a place where we know we are either going to win the game or have a chance of winning the game, so those home games are important.

“We just need to keep plugging away at what we are doing and what we have been working on and keep belief in the players as to what we can go out and deliver.”

Saints fans don’t need reminding of the team’s incredible recent record in front of goal at St Mary’s.

They have failed to score in eight of their last nine home league games - and nine in the last 10 if you include a League Cup loss to Wolves.

“It’s a long long season, and the table is not going to stay as it is now seven games in,” Ward-Prowse added.

“It’s a long season and there will be ups and downs. Every season I have been a part of so far there has been good times and there’s been bad times.

“But the spirit of the players in the club means I’m sure we will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.

“The players, the manager, the infrastructure of the club, the facilities, it’s all geared around European football and we are desperate to get back there for sure.

“That’s the ambition of every player and the manager as well, so let’s go out and get it.”

Given that Saints have occupied finishing berths of sixth, seventh and eighth in recent years, they certainly have the form and Ward-Prowse added: “We have had a bit more experience of being in and around that position so we can take that into it.

“It’s important to beat the teams around you to stay above them but the Premier League has a lot of competition now so we have to make sure we are right and ready for whatever comes our way.”

Saints really need to try and get a run together, with Ward-Prowse acknowledging how vital that could be.

“Momentum is key,” he insisted.

“In any sport it’s very important and if you can pick up a good result coming back after the international break that can really kickstart your season and get your confidence flowing around the players.

“We have proven last year that we can perform against the big teams and we can pick up results, so it’s not writing those games off at all.

“But we do have to make the most of our home form and make St Mary’s a fortress.”