SAINTS star Nathan Redmond is determined to take his game to another level now he is an England player.
Redmond equalled his best-ever goals tally in a season when he equalised in the 3-1 win against Crystal Palace on Wednesday night, a fortnight after making his England debut as a substitute against Germany.
After playing 25 minutes for England against the world champions, he has every incentive to keep improving.
“I didn’t expect to be as involved as I was and it’s given me an extra buzz of motivation,” he said.
“It’s something I always wanted to do and has shown me what’s achievable, but at the same time I know I have to set new levels for myself now.
“A lot more is going to be expected of me and there’s no time to rest on it. I’ve got more of a bit between my teeth now going into games.”
Goalscoring is just one area of Redmond’s game that has improved in his first season at St Mary's.
His leveller against Palace was his seventh of the season, equalling his best-ever tally (for Birmingham City in the Championship in 2011-12).
Had it not been for an outstanding save by Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessy, he would also have netted with a fine header.
“The manager’s reiterated that I need to be in the box more and I think I've improved on that in the second half of the season,” he said.
“He wants me scoring more goals and back-post tap-ins and headers are where I may get four or five a season.
“He always says he wants more. We have our differences on the training pitch every now and then.
“It’s not a big secret that players and managers fall out, a lot of stuff he tells me I don’t agree with and there’s stuff I say he won’t agree with.
“But I know what he wants from me going into a game. There are some areas where I could be doing better, but no-one has a perfect game and I’m completely aware of that.
“He's been drip feeding me the whole season with pointers about where to be and what runs to make. The major thing he’s wanted is a lot more forward runs.”
Redmond scored on his Saints debut in a central role, following his £10m move from Norwich City last summer.
But he prefers playing on the left of the three behind the out-and-out striker, from where he has scored three goals in four games since the EFL Cup final defeat.
“At the start of the season I was in a bit of confusion playing up front, I didn’t fully grasp it," he continued.
“But we’ve gone back to a formation I’m well equipped for, on the left of the 4-2-3-1 with Ryan [Bertrand], one of the best left-backs in the Premier League if not the best at the moment.
“It’s a comfy position to be in. Someone like Dusan [Tadic] will find you with a pass and with the inter play with Manolo, Shane, Jay - and Charlie still to come back - it’s an exciting team to be in. You know you have the freedom to just go and play.
“Since the cup final we’ve kicked on. It was vital we bounced back as quickly as possible at Watford.
“We didn’t have the rub of the green at Tottenham.We could easily have won that game, but we can make it seven points from three games [at West Brom today] and we’d have taken that last week.”