CEDRIC Soares admits he is grateful for the trust and belief Claude Puel has shown him this season.

The Portuguese defender was not always top choice under Ronald Koeman in his first season, following a £5m move from Sporting Lisbon in the summer of 2015, writes Peter Howard.

But, under Puel, the 25-year-old has gone from strength to strength, becoming Saints' undisputed first choice right-back.

Cedric believes the form the team are now showing, having won four of their last seven games, has helped him start to produce his best football since arriving at St Mary's.

"It doesn't always depend on you," he explained. "You always need your team-mates and, if my team-mates are playing better, it's much easier for me to be better.

"That's why I am in good form at the moment and, also, it's my second season and it's been more stable than my first one.

"I haven't had so many ups and downs, I've been always on the same level.

"Now we are winning games, I'm feeling more confident and, because of that, you can take more risks.

"It's just easier when you have trust from your colleagues.

"When you know they trust in you, then there's no doubts and, definitely, you can grow as a player as well."

Under Koeman, Cedric was in and out of the team, with Cuco Martina and Maya Yoshida also having games at right-back.

"I think I had a very good season last season," he said. "I was quite surprised.

"I'm not so tall, so people may not have expected me to adapt so quickly to the Premier League.

"But I came in and adapted quickly. My team-mates helped me a lot in this process.

"I may have played a lot of games in the Premier League but it was still not all together [in a row].

"For me in my position that doesn't bring you the stability necessary.

"In this moment, now, I have much more stability and also trust from the staff.

"I'm no longer playing one, two, three games and then coming out [of the team]. I'm always playing and this makes me work harder.

"When you are a winner and people give you confidence, you will give back everything when they show you that trust and they believe in you."