SAINTS boss Claude Puel has praised Dusan Tadic for his outstanding recent form.
Within three weeks of complaining at being frequently substituted, Tadic has played back-to-back Premier League matches without being benched for the first time since the opening week of the season.
Tadic has played the full 90 minutes in just seven of his 27 Premier League appearances this season – including the first two games under Puel and the last two.
After seeing him help Saints to two vital wins in four days, including the assist for Jordy Clasie’s stunning winner at West Brom on Saturday, Puel admitted: “Dusan has had a very good second half of the season.
“The first half was difficult but he’s come back with very good character, quality and spirit.
"He works for the team, he takes on players and he can play it simple and give good assists.
“He has a good relationship with [Shane] Long, with [Manolo] Gabbiadini and is very important.
“I’m happy for Dusan, we know his quality and he has given it all on the pitch in this period.
"He’s improved since the beginning of the season, he’s improving all the time and his assists are important for the team.”
Puel has challenged Tadic to take inspiration from Jordy Clasie’s first Premier League goal and add to his three goals this season.
“He can score often, like Jordy he has good feet,” said Puel, who was also pleased to give game-time to a number academy graduates at the Hawthorns.
Jack Stephens continued to impress alongside Maya Yoshida at the heart of the Saints defence and Sam McQueen, Harrison Reed and Josh Sims all came off the bench.
“It’s the youngest team in the table and it’s important to continue this work,” continued Puel, who is reluctant to review his first season until the last seven matches have been played.
“It’s not finished, it’s not the moment to say whether it’s a good season or not. We wait until the end of the season, it’s important to keep the focus on climbing the table.”
Saints are very well placed to replace West Brom in the top eight after the 1-0 win at the Hawthorns.
Next up is the visit of Manchester City this Saturday. “I hope we can do a fantastic game against them,” added Puel. “It’s important for us to keep this good spirit and intensity and quality.”