SAINTS defender Jan Bednarek noted that playing in the Championship is akin to playing rugby compared to the Premier League.

The 27 year old was asked about the differences between the two divisions whilst away on international duty with Poland.

Asked by Polish media about the differences between the Premier League and the Championship, Bednarek explained: "There is definitely a difference between the two leagues. 

"The Championship is definitely more physical. Whenever I talk to someone, I say that when we stand in a circle before a match, I feel like we are playing rugby.

"The players are tall and physically strong. There are definitely differences in quality, but this league is strong and demanding. The number of games is also physically demanding.

The centre-back has played a key role in Southampton's eight-game unbeaten run, playing in every game other than Saturday's 2-1 win over West Brom, which he missed through suspension.

Russell Martin has previously explained how Bednarek is Saints "boss on the pitch" and is pleased with how much he has grown as a leader this season.

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"We often analyse my game with the club coach," Bednarek continued. "He expects a lot from me, which certainly helps me a lot.

"I understood and believed that I could still develop. I am moving forward in small steps. My game is changing and evolving.

"It's nice that at the age of 27 you can still take further steps. It's a positive stimulus because now we play a different style at Southampton.

"I am happy with our development and I hope that this will also translate into the national team."

Bednarek has returned to the Polish national team having been left out by manager Michał Probierz during the last camp.

He returns to the side ahead of Poland's crucial European Championship qualifier against Czech Republic.

Poland currently sit third in Group E, one point behind the Czech Republic and three points behind group leaders Albania. However, Bednarek's country have played one game more than the teams ahead of them.

"I am very happy to return to the national team because it is a great reason to be proud. I assumed that I had to work very hard and play my best for the club to be called up again.

"I am now focusing on what lies ahead and preparing as best as possible. The coach called me and we had a chance to talk. For me, the matter was simple.

"I understood that - since I wasn't going to the national team at the time - I had to work harder and prove that I deserved a place in the national team.

"There was, of course, pain, sadness and disappointment. But I think that every ambitious footballer would feel this way.

"The most important thing is that I examined my conscience and worked hard to come back."