SKIPPER James Ward-Prowse thanked Saints fans for their "continued support", insisting the players will "make sure that we can bring them another occasion" to cheer the team on at Wembley.

For the first time since December, spectators were allowed in to watch a Saints match on Sunday, with 4,000 permitted in to the FA Cup semi-final.

However, the majority of those were neither supporters of Saints nor Leicester, with rules stating anyone attending should come from the local area of Brent around Wembley Stadium, with the game used as a test event to trial the safe return of spectators to sporting events.

It was the third time in recent years Saints have competed at Wembley. All three ended in defeat with the 1-0 loss against the Foxes following a 2017 League Cup final disappointment against Manchester United and an FA Cup semi-final reverse against Chelsea in 2018.

And Ward-Prowse, who played the full 90 minutes against Leicester on Sunday, as well as the cup final against Man Utd, admitted it was not the same at the weekend without one half of Wembley full of Saints supporters.

The captain told the Daily Echo: "One of the regrets for all of us was not being able to have 40,000 Southampton fans (at Wembley).

"It’s such a shame having obviously played in a major cup final before and experienced what it’s like having them behind us, so from all of us we want to thank them for their continued support.

"We’re all aware of their backing and they’re behind us and we’ll make sure that we can bring them another occasion when we can have them all here and hopefully be successful.

"I’ve seen this place with 40,000 Saints fans. I know what it’s like to have them there behind us.

"To know that we haven’t given them that this year is disappointing, but it’s added motivation and incentive for us next year to do that again."

He added: "It’s been a great occasion to be involved in and we have to make sure we analyse it, make sure we come back stronger."

Saints failed to register a shot on target against Leicester in a cagey semi-final.

Asked if nerves played a part for some players on the big occasion, Ward-Prowse said: "I think naturally on both sides there’s always that little bit of nervousness.

"But I think we were well in the game. I don’t think we did enough to maybe win the game, but equally I don’t think we deserved to lose it.

"So it is disappointing to take, but we’ve got seven games left of the season and still a good chance to finish the season well."

Discussing motivation for the rest of the campaign, starting against Tottenham tomorrow night, the captain added: "The mentality within the group is very strong.

"We know that we have to put the FA Cup behind us and look forward to Wednesday now and we’ve still got a good opportunity to finish well and finish strong come the end of the season."