MAYA Yoshida has challenged his teammates to ‘improve a lot’ when they return from international duty.

The defender played his first Premier League match of the season in the 3-0 defeat at home to Chelsea and is now preparing to rejoin his Japan teammates for the first time since the World Cup.

Yoshida is in Japan’s squad for friendlies at home to Panama on Friday and World Cup finalists Uruguay next Tuesday.

But he is only too aware of a key period in Saints season that follows – starting at AFC Bournemouth a week on Saturday.

“We need to get back in really good condition when we restart the Premier League because October/November is a really important time for us,” said Yoshida.

“For the derby [at Bournemouth] we have to show more fight, we have to show our good spirit.

“[Our home form] is really difficult to explain, but one win can make a big difference. We need to get back on track as soon as possible.

“Everyone has to play better, we have to improve a lot.”

Yoshida played the full 90 minutes against Chelsea, initially in a back three and then a back four alongside Wesley Hoedt.

“We started very defensively and the first 15 minutes we had a lot of suffering,” he said.

“But in one moment they killed us. Just one mistake and they were really clinical. That’s Chelsea, but we still have a couple of chances to score.

“After 2-0 down it was really difficult to come back, it was a really difficult game for us.”

Yoshida is one of several Saints defenders on international duty during the next ten days.

Jan Bednarek and Cedric Soares could be in opposition on Thursday, when Poland host Portugal in the Uefa Nations League.

Poland also host Italy on Sunday, when Portugal are away to a Scotland side expected to include Saints midfielder Stuart Armstrong. Armstrong is also set to face Israel in the Nations League on Thursday

Jannik Vestergaard, left out of the Saints side against Chelsea, could be up against Republic of Ireland’s Shane Long in the Nations League on Saturday.

Vestergaard is in the Denmark squad for the trip to Dublin and a friendly against Austria next Tuesday. Ireland also play Wales in the Nations League in Dublin on Tuesday.

Steven Davis has plenty of travelling ahead of him as Northern Ireland are away to Austria on Friday and then Bosnia-Herzegovina next Tuesday.