SAINTS’ players voluntarily came into training on their day off this week, because they felt it would give them the best chance of beating QPR tomorrow.

A group of senior squad members, led by team captain Jose Fonte, approached Ronald Koeman in the dressing room after Tuesday’s 2-1 win at Arsenal and did something the club’s manager had never seen before – they asked to give up their free time so they could train.

Fonte explained: “Obviously, you are very happy at winning the game, and possibly you would think ‘Ok, we need a rest’.

“But we decided as a team, and as a group, that it’s more important to accelerate the regeneration process, so when it comes to Saturday we give ourselves the best chance to win the game, which is going to be a massive game for us, so we can keep the momentum going.”

Fonte added: “I spoke with Morgan (Schneiderlin), with Kelvin (Davis), with the more senior players, and we decided together that it would be better to come in the next day, because we want to win Saturday.

“Then we spoke with the manager and the manager said ‘Yes, ok, that’s good’.

“We know what’s best for us. We all want to win, and if you want to win you need to be professional and to be professional we couldn’t have the day off.”

Koeman admitted he was taken aback by his team’s decision.

He said: “The players showed a great ambition.

“Jose Fonte said to me ‘Boss, we would like to come to train tomorrow.’ “I said ‘But you have a day off – I’ve planned a lot of things with my wife!”

“But we changed it and we had a recovering session. I never had that – a team, a squad, say ‘No day off’ and that means a lot for me, that means a lot about the ambition of the players.”

The Saints manager said it was a moment that was indicative of the squad’s attitude, revealing there is a real desire to better what they achieved in the previous campaign.

“It is a great attitude and they look to continue what they did last season,” he said.

“It was not to finish eighth in the table and say ‘ok, now we will see’.

“No, it is ‘last season it was eighth, maybe we can be seventh on the table’ – to improve, to keep going with ambition.”

Koeman added: “It’s the ambition of the technical staff, it is the ambition of the medical staff altogether. We are really a family and we showed that.”