RALPH Hasenhuttl heaped praise on Saints’ summer signing Romain Perraud but insisted the club’s defensive record is “something we have to change.”

The 23-year-old French full-back was the first new acquisition of the current campaign, signed from Stade Brest at the start of July for an undisclosed fee.

Perraud, who made the France Ligue One Team of the Season in 2020-21, signed a four-year deal and acts as a direct replacement for departed Ryan Bertrand – now at Leicester City.

The full-back has been heavily involved in the summer pre-season training with the Saints squad, including being pictured on the side’s cycle through New Forest.

Speaking to BBC Radio Solent, Hasenhuttl said: "(I’m) very pleased. Getting him here, he is a character that’s perfect to our club, to our team.

“A hard worker, offensively with some good habits, quick player, left foot and right foot.

“Defensively is a guy who likes to defend on the front foot. A little bit similar to Kyle (Walker-Peters) on the right side.

“He had a fantastic season in France last year and decided to come to us and after Ryan Bertrand has left, we knew we needed a very good replacement.”

Saints had a torrid time at the back last season, only keeping nine clean sheets in 38 Premier League matches – and conceding 68 goals, of which only relegated West Brom let in more.

Eight of those shutouts had come by January 4, when Saints were sixth placed and had just beaten league leaders Liverpool without conceding to pick up three consecutive clean sheets.

After earning just one more for the remainder of the campaign, it has made clear what Hasenhuttl wants to do.

When asked about the defence, he added: “Absolutely no question. This is definitely something we have to change because it automatically leads us to a better position.

“That is why we were up the table, so we need to change it and make sure it’s all year, change the behaviour.”

Saints reportedly have a behind-closed-doors match against Championship Fulham on Saturday, before a trip to Wales sees them take on Swansea and Cardiff in pre-season friendlies.

Athletic Bilbao then visit St Mary’s on Saturday, August 7.