Ralph Hasenhuttl stepped up the intensity of his battle to keep Saints in the Premier League by cancelling the squad’s day off this week.

The players were due to take yesterday off work before retuning to train every day in the lead-up to facing Arsenal at St Mary’s on Sunday.

However, Hasenhuttl scrapped their home time, instead calling the squad in for a meeting as he tries to turn around their waning form.

It is understood the squad responded positively to the move, with the majority of players having bought into Hasenhuttl’s philosophy already and seeing his way as a last roll of the dice in terms of retaining their top-flight status.

The move is also likely to go down well with supporters who want to see the squad working tirelessly to try and improve after a dreadful run of results.

Defeat at Cardiff in Hasenhuttl’s first game in charge, albeit just three days after he was appointed, made it 12 Premier League matches in a row without a win.

Relegation rivals Cardiff pulled five points clear of Saints who are now second from bottom.

However, even though they have won just one game out of 16 in the league this season, Saints are still just a win away from safety.

It underlines the fine margins in play and that it would not take a ridiculous upturn in form for Saints to pull clear of the drop zone.

The first target for Hasenhuttl is Sunday’s clash with Arsenal.

The Gunners are unbeaten in 20 games in all competitions, making them a very stern test.

Hasenhuttl is keen for improvements before then and, crucially, the game at Huddersfield a week on Saturday.

Saints take on the Terriers and West Ham at St Mary’s either side of Christmas, with fixtures against Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea packed around them, which only further emphasises how important it is that the squad are on board and ready to perform in Hasenhuttl’s preferred manner as soon as possible.