CLAUDE Puel is firing Saints up for the final run-in until the end of the season as they bid to record their fourth successive top eight Premier League finish.

With nine games left Saints will aim to close the gap on teams above them when they face eighth-placed West Bromwich Albion tomorrow.

Tony Pulis’ side are seven points ahead of Puel’s men, but have played two games more.

And Saints started to build some momentum with a dramatic 3-1 win over Crystal Palace at St Mary’s on Wednesday - 24 hours after the Baggies had lost at Watford.

“Three points or one point keeps us in touching distance [of the top eight],” said Puel. “It will be important to take points and many more for our ambitions.

“The game against Crystal Palace was important because many teams behind us have taken points and won.

“It’s important to play without pressure, but with the ambitions to play good football and to take points and to see forward.

“It’s important to continue this work. I was happy yesterday the team kept a good spirit and kept the good play always.

“It will be the same against West Brom and then we will see what we can do.

“Because we have two games postponed to play (against Manchester United and Arsenal) it will be important to maintain a good level and keep the possibility of going up [the table].”

Saints head to The Hawthorns in good form away from home, having won two of their last three on the road – against Sunderland and Watford.

The Baggies have won just one of their last five games, although triumphed in their last home match - beating an out of sorts Arsenal 3-1.

“It’s important to keep some pressure because with pressure we are able to give our best and to keep the good focus and concentration about each of the games and not just to finish the season,” Puel added.

“It’s important always to have a good objective for the end of the season and the result against Palace gives us this opportunity.

“It’s important to continue this work, but we know it’s a difficult schedule for the future with difficult games against strong teams.

“But it’s a very interesting challenge for my players.

“Yesterday some journalist said to me that Southampton are the second youngest team in the league.

“I didn’t know this but I think it’s important to give game time and the opportunity to all these young players.”