MAYA Yoshida wants to atone for many regrets at the World Cup in Russia this month with Japan.

Four years’ ago, the Saints defender was part of the Japan squad which failed to win in the 2014 Brazil tournament, finishing bottom of their group with one point.

Now, Japan are heading to Russia with plans of restoring some pride – and, perhaps, if they make it through Group H, a match with England in the round of 16.

“We had so many regrets from Brazil. Still I have some painful feelings in my head and in my heart. The only thing, winning or new success at international level can help,” the 29-year-old centre-back said.

“There is only one solution to help the pain get better from Brazil, by winning in Russia.”

Japan face Colombia, Poland and Senegal in their group in Russia and Yoshida feels the Blue Samurai stand a chance of progressing.

However, Japan head into the tournament having not won in 2018, losing to Ghana and Ukraine and drawing with Mali.

The 2-0 defeat to Ghana was new manager Akira Nishino’s first game in charge, after he replaced Vahid Halilhodzic in April.

“Our group is really competitive. There’s no super stars like Brazil, Germany or Spain but Colombia are a little more exciting and have more of a reputation than the other three,” Yoshida said.

“Still, it’s a really competitive group and every country has the chance to go through.”

Yoshida, who has also represented his country at the Olympics at London 2012, is heading to his second World Cup, both of which he has played at while at Saints.

Last time around, the centre-back was coming off the back of a tough season, during which he struggled to nail down a regular place in 2013/14.

But this time, he heads to Russia far more established at Saints and he believes he does not reflect the player he did four years ago when he was heading off to Brazil.

“A lot, everything, Japanese journalists asked me the same thing and I said everything,” he said, when asked how he’d changed as a player since 2014.

“Four years in the Premier League is difficult, really different than anywhere else, I play against top level strikers every weekend.

“I have more confidence, more experience, I’m in a different position in the squad, so I have to lead the team.

“My job is really similar to how it is in Southampton.

“I have much confidence about that and there’s no guarantee I’ll be playing at the next World Cup in Qatar in 2022, so it’s going to be maybe my last time.

“That means I’m going to give my everything to the national team as well as I do in Southampton.”

Yoshida will go up against a familiar face in Russia: former Saints man Sadio Mane and now, of course, of Liverpool, who bought him for £34m in 2016, will line-up against him for Senegal on June 24.

“He’s fearsome when he has the ball and a big space, but it’s going to be good to see a former team-mate in the World Cup because we both knew our ambitions and Sadio has improved a lot since he came to Southampton and after his move to Liverpool,” he said.

“It’s going to be tough for us to stop him but I’m looking forward to it.”

Jan Bednarek, Dusan Tadic and Cedric Soares are the other Saints men at the World Cup, after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was omitted from Denmark’s final squad.