Mauricio Pellegrino has labelled tonight’s crunch St Mary’s clash with Crystal Palace as a “massive game” for his side.

Saints have plenty of reason to be positive after an excellent performance to hold Manchester United to a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford last time out.

But that point will be soon forgotten if Saints don’t follow it up with just a fifth win of the season as Roy Hodgson’s men visit the south coast this evening.

With both teams desperate to ease relegation fears, the game feels like a key moment of the campaign.

“It’s a massive game for us,” admitted Pellegrino.

“We have to try to do really good, to keep going from the performance against Manchester United.

“The Premier League is really really tight and we need to gain three points, but Crystal Palace are getting better, they are improving a lot.

“For both teams this is a massive game.”

Saints showed real character and togetherness in their battling performance at United, and are sure to need more of that this evening.

Roy Hodgson’s team are a very different prospect to the team Saints comfortably defeated 1-0 at Selhurst Park early in the season, and are fighting for their lives.

“To play well and to try to win games you need character and you need physical condition to try to play well, good football.

“You need to be focussed on the small detail. You need a lot of things, not just one thing.

“With the spirit you need to build this spirit from yourself and look forward because every single team in the Premier League can create problems.”

Saints do have a slight advantage, having played United on Saturday night while Palace had to play on Sunday.

Pellegrino has rotated when having multiple games in quick succession, and there is a chance Ryan Bertrand could be fit to return tonight, but when asked if he would be tempted to keep an unchanged side after they showed such unity, he replied: “One thing is to have squad with players with quality, another thing is to have a team competing as a unit with togetherness.

“To build a team that plays football well is something completely different to a team that has good players.

“This is my goal from the first day.

“Sometimes we did well, sometimes we did bad, but I will continue fighting for my ideas.

“I am happy for United but we have to continue improving.”