Mark Hughes has called on Saints fans to produce the same stirring atmosphere that helped the club to their ‘Great Escape’ when he was a player to aid their latest Premier League survival bid.

Hughes today takes charge of his first home game since taking over from Mauricio Pellegrino as Saints host Chelsea.

As a player Hughes was part of the Dave Jones side that somehow stayed up against the odds, and remembered how big a role the supporters had.

He now wants more of the same as the club’s manager.

He said: “They (the fans) understand we are in need of their help and it’s always better to have everybody pushing in the right direction.

“I mentioned the influence and the effect the Southampton fans had when I was here as a player under difficult circumstances in a similar position.

“The fact everybody was pulling in the right direction and the same direction was a big factor in us getting out of the situation I found myself as a player here.

“Nothing changes. If everybody is on board, which I fully anticipate they will be, then that’s going to be the atmosphere that we need to be able to be positive ourselves.”

It’s a big week for Saints who also take on Leicester on Thursday before the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea the following weekend.

Hughes isn’t thinking about rotating or changing too much though.

“It’s just one at a time,” he insisted. “I think we have to focus on that.

“There is enough time between games to recover anyway, so I’m not looking too far ahead.

“This game at the weekend is the one that we have solely talked about and it is what we have worked on.

“We discussed Chelsea at length and we will put more information into the lads and leading into the game.

“It is nothing more than that and I think that is the right way to approach it, we can’t look too far ahead. It is about what we face in the immediate future, rather than thinking too far ahead.”

Chelsea have had some pretty average Premier League form by their own high standards, but Hughes isn’t too worried about that.

“It’s fair to say their priorities prior to the season involves Premier League titles and Champions League and those have fallen by the wayside for them,” he said.

“Their focus on the Premier League? I don’t know.

“Recent results would suggest that focus has diminished but top teams have certain demands and focus on them that demand they play to a certain level and top teams bounce back very quickly.

“We are not working towards the game at the weekend with the feeling Chelsea are going to be under par.

“We will prepare as if they are going to be at their best with their best players available and playing at their full potential and that’s the only way you can prepare for this.

“If they are not quite at it and we catch them on an off day so be it but we can’t prepare to think that is definitely going to happen.”