Ralph Hasenhuttl is expecting to face a stiff test as he takes charge of his first Saints game this afternoon.

Saints travel to Cardiff for a significant match in the battle to get out of trouble with the Welsh side just two points ahead in the table.

Cardiff will provide a strong physical test and for Hasenhuttl, who has had just one proper training session with the team since taking over, facing Neil Warnock may prove a baptism of fire.

He said: “I know that he has a little bit more experience with games in England than I do.

“I think he’s a special character, and what you can see in this team is they have a lot of automisation and play very physically, and hard work against the ball, and with good automisation, so they’re not easy to beat.

“It’s really a tough game for us and for me in the beginning after a short time of training so it will be very tough. “ Hasenhuttl has taken over at relegation threatened teams before and been successful and is hoping to use that to his advantage.

“Yes, this experience helps me a lot. It’s a little far away now, it’s about five years ago that I have taken over Ingolstadt,” he recalled.

“We were last after seven matches with four points. We had a little bit more time and more time to train which was the good thing there.

“When you are clear of that and honest with yourself, then you start working now.

“I can guarantee you that when you see us playing in the summer it will be different than when you see the team now.

“I can’t guarantee you how many results we will earn for that. I hope it is enough to stay in this division.”

Saints have appointed Hasenhuttl with the longer-term aim of getting back into Europe, but for now the new manager says that is far from the forefront of his mind.

“I don’t think now about whether it’s achievable to reach Europe again,” he admitted.

“It’s clear that it’s the main goal of every sportsman to play at the highest level he can and if you have been there once, like I was last year, you will want to go there again.

“But it’s too far away at the moment. We have other problems at the moment. Big problems which we have to face. We will do. It’s not interesting in the moment.

“The interesting part now is to get stabilised as quick as possible. And if we do we will get the chance to win the points we need.”