RALPH Hasenhuttl insists that he’s happy Sofiane Boufal is back at Saints – but added that he has a fight on his hands if he wants to get into the first-team.

Boufal returned to Staplewood three weeks ago after being handed an extended break due to his involvement with Morocco in the Africa Cup of Nations.

The playmaker has undoubted ability on the ball, but question marks are often raised over his attitude, however, Hasenhuttl claimed the 25-year-old has been fully focused.

Saints’ manager said: “I think he showed with the ball he has a lot of quality and with the way he attacks he should improve still.

“But that’s something you don’t learn from one day to the next.

“I am happy he is here, and I know that in this position we have a lot of quality and a big battle to play at the moment.

“There are three offensive positions and one of those are maybe for him.

“In the last game I substituted him and in the short time he showed he can help us massively and I am happy that he’s here.”

There is a feeling amongst Saints fans that Hasenhuttl will be able to have a positive impact on Boufal’s career in a similar way to how he brought the best out of Nathan Redmond last season.

While the Moroccan was out on loan at Celta Vigo throughout the previous campaign, Redmond was busy scooping the club’s player of the year award.

The winger, who has recently signed a new four-year deal with Saints, has shown that it’s possible to transform your fortunes around given the fact he was being jeered off the pitch by supporters not so long ago.

And in the short time Hasenhuttl has worked with Boufal, he’s noticed similar traits between the duo.

He explained: “From his talent and the way he plays football they are a little bit similar.

“Both are very strong in one-against-one, but I don’t have the feeling he is not hard working in the sessions.

“I think it’s more about how I attack and the angle I attack to create the shadow where we want to win balls. This a feeling you might have when you work ball oriented.

“There are a few habits we are still working on. We showed him a few videos to try and help him to adapt this part of his game also.”

Although Boufal has got off on the right foot with the demanding Saints boss, Hasenhuttl stated to be in his starting XI, you need to show a desire to work even harder when you don’t have the ball.

Proof of this can be seen from how he brought James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu back into the Saints fold after Mark Hughes' failed tenure in charge.

“The most positive thing for me that he wants to work hard and also against the ball,” revealed the Austrian.

“I think he is not that long here now – three or four weeks.

“In this time, he showed he can help you and showed that with the ball he can make a big difference but as a team to be successful is not enough to only work when you have the ball, but also work when you don’t have the ball.

“That’s the reason why we had the chance to come out of the relegation zone.

“We started to work against the ball as a team and that is the only key to winning games in the Premier League - especially against the big teams.

“In the first seven rounds we play four times against big teams so it’s all about working against the ball and being committed and if you are also good with the ball it’s perfect and welcome into my team.”