Southampton v Fulham: Saints' boss Mauricio Pochettino praises his squad's work ethic for impressive start to the Premier League

Pochettino claims the double training sessions that he has implemented have been key to their rise to the top four

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The Independent Football

Mauricio Pochettino is hoping his Southampton players will cash in on their double helpings of training to surge into the top four in the Barclays Premier League.

The Saints manager puts his side's impressive start to the season down to the desire and determination of the players.

If they beat Fulham in the 5.30pm Saturday kick-off at St Mary's they would take a leap into the Champions League spots, at least temporarily, which would be reward for a season which has seen them concede just three league goals.

The double training sessions have been key.

"It's all down to the great effort of the players," Pochettino told reporters. "They are the ones who have accepted very well to have these double sessions, to accept this physical challenge and the new way of how we want them to train and to play."

Pochettino, however, is taking nothing for granted, although victory against a Fulham side buoyant from their 4-1 victory against Crystal Palace on Monday would give Southampton their best ever start to a season.

"I don't really think about that," said Pochettino, whose side have lost just once, against Norwich, in the league so far this season. "I just think about winning and having my players playing as well and as positively as I want them to play.

"We know it is a very long competition and a very long season and we know that statistics in the end are just statistics but don't really mean anything, so the most important thing is how high up we are in the table at the end of the season. That's what really counts."

He will not be taking Fulham lightly.

Pochettino added: "Fulham are a team that know how to play football. They have talented players and have been using a 4-4-2 system and defending very deep."