Mauricio Pellegrino senses that Saints are ready to step up and win what he describes as one of the “biggest tests” for his team this season as they face Watford at Vicarage Road.

It is a huge game for both sides who are desperate for the three points to ease relegation fears.

Saints go into this afternoon’s fixture separated from the bottom three only by goal difference, and having won just one of their last 13 Premier League matches.

Watford are now just five points ahead of Saints and being increasingly dragged towards danger after a run of six top flight defeats in seven, and have failed to win at home in the Premier League since October.

Pellegrino said: “It’s an important game for us but a big test for us in all different areas, not just on the pitch.

“We want to show our character then our football and our character.

“In our life the character and the attitude is everything.

“You can have talent but without your emotion on the pitch we are nothing.

“This is my belief and what I want to see and the feeling of everybody right now is that we are really conscious that we have to put on the pitch to show with our actions what we want to show to our opponent and our fans.”

With the Premier League table being so tight, Pellegrino knows things could improve very quickly if Saints can hit some form, but they can’t afford to wait much longer for that to happen.

“Everybody knows and everybody is conscious now that we are in a difficult situation,” he reflected.

“In one week when two games everything can change.

“In Premier League last season from the eighth to 17th it was six points. Now between 17 and number ten is more or less the same. There are five or six points.

“Maybe in two or three weeks’ time maybe we can talk about other feelings.

“Obviously we are conscious of this situation but I have got a good feeling because I have got good players.

“My players are conscious we are in a position we have to change on and off the pitch.

“I have a good feeling we are working really well, we are better prepared than before and we want to move one step forward from Fulham and it’s a nice opportunity for us.”

Both Saints and Watford got a much-needed confidence boost last weekend as they defeated Championship teams in the FA Cup third round, and Pellegrino can sense a lift in morale in his squad.

“I think so. I think the last three games, even against Palace, we didn’t deserve to lose this game,” he reckoned.

“Against Man U, Palace and Fulham I think the team play decent games, moving one step forward at a time.

“Now we have got maybe one of the biggest tests right now in the season.

“Watford is a good team but to play away against them in this moment is a massive game and we have to show we want to win.”