Mark Hughes believes he has quickly learned which players can help save the club from relegation and those who will not.

Hughes has been pleased with the leadership and character he has got into the first team, and is contemplating how to get even more of it into the side in the final five games of the season.

He has also worked out which players are unlikely to step up and deliver with backs firmly up against the wall.

He said: “I am starting to clearly learn what leaders and what kind of leadership group I have in the club.

“I have good characters and strong characters and maybe the starting line-up needs more of those.

“Clearly I am getting to understand the guys who are going to help us and those who are not going to put their bodies on the line, and that’s good from my point of view.”

He added: “It's a case of understanding the group.

“I'm more comfortable now knowing the guys that I can trust, the ones I can use and that simplifies my thinking in terms of selection.

“It's a case of the guys that are with us and pushing to change this around, they are the ones who can get us out of this situation.

“We are disappointed clearly with the goals we've conceded.

“They are only fine details, Giroud gets across someone, a ball is played in that's right on the money. That’s' what he's paid to do, so sometimes you've got to hold your hands up.”

Hughes feels that Saints need to be able to take greater control of situations in order to secure points.

“I feel that we have done work that has helped the guys to understand what is required at this level and help with what’s required but it’s the key moments in games where you have to be resolute and clear your heads quicker than we are able to do at the moment and get something out of games you deserve to get something out of,” reflected Hughes.

“At the moment we are scoring two goals against top level teams and even that’s not enough and that’s where the problem lies.

“It was difficult.

“It was always that case where you think ‘come on guys, you just need to understand what is happening here.’

“Maybe I think at times we are a little bit honest and you have to have the ability, a skill, and it’s not what I advocate, but knock people over in the right places on the field. The top teams do it, Man City and Chelsea do it, to just give yourself time to regroup.”