RALPH Hasenhuttl has praised Cedric Soares for his recent improvement.

The right-back is out of contract at the end of the season when, three months ago, he told the Daily Telegraph he would “make another step and see what is best for me.”

But the Portugese, who is in his fifth season with Saints, has been excellent during the club’s upturn in form.

And Hasenhuttl raised hopes that the 28-year-old may yet stay with the club by saying: “Every player who plays well and feels comfortable in the team will think about staying with us and we will think about maybe going along with him.

“But it’s not the moment to decide this now because we said we wanted to give us time. Time for having a look, for the development of every player.

“Until we have 36 points, we have a long way to go.

“But I’m very happy for him that he finally showed now what I want to see, that he has to defend more on the front foot.

“I must say that the developing of his performance was a massive one and really surprised people a lot maybe, and also me with his performance.

“This is exactly the reaction I want to see. I was also very critical with him but I’m also praising him when he does it well. At the moment he does it very well.”

Asked if he sees 36 points as the target for Premier League survival, Hasenhuttl added: “No, not really. But as soon as we are in this area then the less pressure we have and then we can concentrate on what happens next season. But in the moment, we are far away from that.”

Hasenhuttl also reiterated that he is looking to sign full-backs this month.

“We are in the market and we are looking for full-backs because we know that we don’t have that many options at the moment,” he continued.

“I was happy that Jake Vokins played there in the FA Cup but he’s still a young player who has to learn a lot. We have Ryan [Bertrand], but we don’t really have an alternative for him. This is the position that we’re also missing Yan Valery on the right side, so we don’t have many alternatives.

“This will definitely be a position that we do something in. We have a few guys that are available which can be a loan option until the summer.

“I don’t want to comment on any names, but you can be sure we have a whole list of what can be interesting for us.”