RALPH Hasenhuttl admits he has felt the pressure at Saints since taking charge.

The Austrian replaced the sacked Mark Hughes in the summer and has guided the St Mary’s side away from the relegation zone, writes Dan Sheldon.

Saints are yet to lose in the Premier League this year, but Hasenhuttl isn’t getting complacent and thinks today’s match with Burnley has the potential to determine the remainder of their season.

Hasenhuttl said: “I think I feel it [the pressure] from the first day since I got here.

“If you told me on the day I was starting that on this matchday we would be three or four points ahead of Cardiff, I would say perfect. I wouldn’t have to underwrite this, I’d take it absolutely. 

Daily Echo: Ralph Hasenhuttl has guided Saints to an unbeaten start to the Premier League in 2019Ralph Hasenhuttl has guided Saints to an unbeaten start to the Premier League in 2019

“It was pressure from the first day on and I knew it would take until the end of the season.

“The next two games can be a crucial step in what direction we go – I hope the direction in front.

“I think the team is unbeaten in 2019 until now, two draws and two wins in the Premier League.

“That’s more than we could expect and, although we are still not at the end of our development, we have a lot of things to learn, to do better and to improve.

“I think we are in a good way and we will try to protect this way. 

“It’s a successful way we are in at the moment and that’s what we are working on every day.”

Saints travel to Burnley today knowing that a win will leave them in great shape ahead of next Saturday’s crunch showdown with Cardiff at St Mary’s.

But their recent record at Turf Moor suggests that it isn’t going to be as straightforward as that.

They’ve not won away to Burnley since the Championship days back in October 2007.

And with today’s opposition adding ex-Saint Peter Crouch to their squad on transfer deadline day, it will be another difficult challenge.

However, Hasenhuttl is confident their own man mountain at the back will be able to deal with an aerial bombardment.

Jannik Vestergaard was the tallest outfield player in the Premier League until Crouch made his move back into the top-flight.

The Danish international will be keen to continue his impressive form for Saints and assert his dominance over the striker.

Daily Echo: Jannik VestergaardJannik Vestergaard

“I think it’s snowing at the weekend, so when they are jumping very high, pay attention,” Hasenhuttl said when asked about the impending battle between the pair.

“I think our centre backs have had good games and Jannik showed that he is in the box mainly for clearing the balls in the air. He is a perfect defender for us – Jan Bednarek also. It will be an interesting duel.”

Hasenhuttl added that he could use Vestergaard in training to help the other defenders prepare for Crouch’s height: “Yes, maybe. It’s difficult as we don’t have tall strikers, so we will find a solution how we train for it.”