YAN Valery is a man on a mission.

The 19-year-old right back has graduated from Saints’ under-23 side to regular first team action in the space of six weeks.

And when he set his targets in the summer for the season that was about to come, forcing his way into the senior squad was a priority, even though he admitted it took him by surprise.

“Obviously, I wanted to become the first choice right back at Southampton,” Valery explained.

“I can’t say I could see it coming, but I was ready and waiting for it. It’s been amazing.

“I’ve worked hard in the under-23’s and we were doing great this season. I wanted to improve myself and become a better player.

“I’ve been playing a lot and the manager has shown me that he trusts me, so I’ve been really pleased with it.

“I just wanted to give it back on the pitch, so it’s been really good.

“If you are the first choice right-back in the Premier League then you can start thinking about the national team as well.

“I’ve got a lot of dreams and targets but the main one was to be the first choice right-back at this club.

“It’s been a really big month for me and my family, they are really proud of it.”

After making his debut in the Carabao Cup defeat to Leicester in November, Valery hasn’t looked back.

Having to learn his craft in a Premier League side battling against relegation would be a tough task for any youngster.

But with games against Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham under his belt, tomorrow’s test at Chelsea won’t faze him.

He has become accustomed to playing against the league’s most feared players, however, you’d at least think Eden Hazard would give Valery sleepless nights.

Hazard has been Chelsea’s standout player and is often touted for a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid, but Valery is actually looking forward to the impending battle.

“Playing against big players and big clubs is so good,” Valery revealed with a beaming smile etched across his face.

“I’m not saying you have nothing to lose, but you just have to see where you are at when you come up against big players.

“You learn a lot about yourself in these games and it’s good.

“You play football to play in these big games and I’m just really looking forward to it, I can’t wait.

“When I play against the big players, I’m not really thinking, ‘it’s Eden Hazard’.

“It’s just man against man and I have to do my job as always.

“I never worry on the pitch about this player or that player, it’s just me against another man.”

It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Valery.

He was taught a footballing lesson against Cardiff when he was given a torrid time by winger Josh Murphy.

The 19-year-old showed signs of his obvious inexperience and got himself needlessly booked.

It looked as though he was about to get sent off, but he made it to the half time break before being taken out of the firing line by Ralph Hasenhuttl, who replaced him with Jack Stephens.

Three have been other mistakes made by Valery, but nothing that wouldn’t be expected by someone who was thrown in at the deep end.

However, following the Cardiff game, it would’ve been easy for Hasenhuttl to opt for someone else in Cedric’s absence, but he stuck with the Frenchman.

And even with Cedric being fully fit now, Valery still pips him to the teamsheet. It’s this level of trust shown to him from Hasenhuttl that has been making him feel at ease out on the pitch.

Valery added: “He [Hasenhuttl] knows I am young and will make mistakes like against Cardiff when I had the yellow card and it was probably better for him to take me off.

“He already told me that he trusts me.

“If he plays me or doesn’t play me, I will still keep working hard and show that he can trust me even more.

“All the players are making me comfortable and telling me not to be scared and to not worry about making mistakes because I’m still young.

“I’ve just been playing and there has been a little bit of pressure since my first game because you don’t want to make silly mistakes.

“I’ve got a lot of learning to do.”

Valery could only watch on from the under-23’s as Saints struggled for results under former boss Mark Hughes.

It’s understood that Hughes wasn’t the most proactive of managers when it came to taking training sessions, whereas Hasenhuttl is the opposite.

The Austrian’s approach to develop not only the senior players, but also the youngsters, is something that Valery has embraced.

And it’s one of the reasons why the right back thinks Saints won’t be in relegation trouble come the end of the season, and is instead, expecting them to progress up the Premier League table.

“Since the new manager came in, we have done a lot of work and I’ve already learned a lot from him and I still have a lot of things to improve on,” the 19-year-old revealed.

“The things I’ve learned were mainly things I hadn’t noticed before the new manager came in.

“He showed me some little details like how to know my body, especially between Boxing Day and now. He also showed me how to be more professional at times.

“I can’t say I’m more confident we will stay up because I’ve always felt we are a Premier League club and we have the players.

“We are all at a good level, and you can tell this because since the coach came in, we are starting to win.

“We want to go on now and win as many games as we can.”