RALPH Hasenhuttl has warned his players there is ‘hard work to do’ if Saints are to continue to storm towards a top-ten position.

Saints are expected to be playing Burnley in gale-force winds when Storm Dennis hits the south coast this afternoon.

The St Mary's Fanzone will be closed today as a precaution, while Hasenhuttl admits the weather will bring back memories of the night Saints’ remarkable season reached its nadir.

Asked about the prospect of taking on a Burnley in 50 mph-plus winds, Hasenhuttl responded: “Oh, again?! Hopefully we will be stormy with our attacking! The last time it was stormy was the 9-zero.

“We hope we can turn this weather to a positive result.”

Anyone who suggested Saints might finish in the top ten after that result on October 25 would have been laughed at, but a month later they began a run that has yielded 22 points from their last 12 league games.

Now they are preparing for Burnley’s visit in 13th place, level with today’s visitors as one of four teams on 31 points - including tenth-placed Arsenal.

“Every club wants to be a top-ten team and it’s not that far away from us at the moment, but there is hard work to do, especially against opponents like Burnley,” said Hasenhuttl.

“We don’t want to concentrate too much on the end result of the season it will be a good one if we play well and if we take wins but it will not be so good if we stop winning now and fall back to the behaviour we don’t want to see.

“We need to stay playing aggressive and stay being good in possession which we did in the last game. This is the biggest change. At the end I hope we’re not in another relegation battle.”

Hasenhuttl has learnt much since the 3-0 defeat at Burnley on the opening day of the season.

“There are no guarantees you’ll win the first game and you have to look at whether it’s tight or not then you have the next game.

“After [losing at home to] Liverpool we beat Brighton and drew with [Manchester] United so it wasn’t that bad.

“We had a tough start to the season, especially home games, but they were long ago now. Ages ago.

For me now it’s interesting to see what the team is doing at the moment.

“Against Spurs we were not quite the top team I think we can be. Such games we must win in the future because we had good chances and good possession.

“But the development from the start of the season is massive. That’s why I’m here, to try to develop every player, and this is what I’m seeing.”

Reflecting on the key factors behind Saints’ improvement, Hasenhuttl continued: “It’s a combination of being calmer and more flexible so it’s not so easy for the opponent to find a way to defend against us.

“In possession we’ve made the biggest change so far, a good balance of not taking too much risk but playing with the ball on the ground in the red zone [in front of the back four] and in our number ten [wide] positions.

“This is something we changed massively. I think the players enjoy it very much. It’s not always nice to work against the ball and sprint against the ball and to hunt but if you do it you create chances.”

Midfielder James Ward-Prowse, who is expected to play today after suffering a nasty cut in the 3-2 FA Cup defeat at Spurs ten days ago, is one of several players who has thrived. “I had a lot of players there – Mario Lemina was here, for instance – and it was tough to find one player for that position," continued Hasenhuttl.

"When you’re new it’s tough for first impressions.

"He [JWP] was good on the ball but asked what he needed to do and I said he had to win balls and be more nasty.

“Many players from the academy are good when they have the ball but stop playing when they don’t have the ball. Playing without the ball is something they have to learn.”