Mark Hughes has refused to speculate on how points Saints will need to survive, but is confident it will be significantly less than 40.

Saints host Chelsea in the lunchtime kick-off tomorrow starting the day third from bottom with 28 points.

A good result would put serious pressure on their relegation rivals ahead of their matches, but if things go badly there is a fear Saints could get cut adrift.

There are debates over whether Saints are likely to need three wins, or possibly four, to survive, but Hughes isn’t setting any targets just yet.

He said: “I will take four if they are on offer.

“I’m not sure and it’s difficult to say categorically the number of points teams will need to stay up.

“Historically it’s that magical 40 point mark but I don’t think it’s going to be anywhere near that this year if I’m honest.

“You won’t be able to pin me down to say exactly what it will be because I will probably be wrong.

“I think we have got the potential to get those wins that we need and then we can look to regroup and look to the future, but first and foremost we are in the here and now and need to get the job done now.”

Hughes won his first game after taking charge as Saints dispatched Wigan in the FA Cup, but his first two top flight matches have ended in defeats to West Ham and Arsenal.

Hughes admits he has looked ahead and already thought about where the points are likely to come from.

“I’ve always done that if you are at the top, the middle or the bottom,” he confessed.

“You are always looking at the fixtures ahead and you try and predict what the likely outcome is.

“I’ve done it before and usually I am quite conservative and hope to overachieve.

“I haven’t got a problem in that and you have to factor who the opposition you are facing clearly.

“Sometimes runs of games will test you and you find it difficult it get a win among a set of fixtures because you are playing those teams at the top end of the table, other times you have runs where you play easier teams supposedly and that’s where you expect to pick up points.

“Clearly the strength of the opposition is going to dictate whether you feel you are going to get the points you feel you are capable of.”