WESLEY Hoedt is glad Mauricio Pellegrino has started to work out his best Saints team because it's meant he's been able to develop a partnership with Jack Stephens at centre-back.

The duo have played together for ten consecutive games in all competitions and have become Pellegrino's first choice pairing at centre back.

The Saints boss has only just settled on Hoedt and Stephens, having deployed Maya Yoshida and, before his £75m departure to Liverpool last month, Virgil van Dijk, at the back.

Hoedt said: “We’re doing well. The whole team has improved but we have to keep looking in the mirror to see what we can improve on.

“The consistency now in the team means we can form a partnership that, I think, is showing that it’s good.

“We are both confident on the ball and you just have to show you can compete as well as proper defenders and I think we are doing that.”

Saints have gone six games unbeaten in all competitions and, although they sometimes look vulnerable at the back, especially from set-pieces, they have kept a promising three clean sheets in seven games.

Overall, there has been a marked change in performances for the better and Hoedt believes that this could well be down to a more consistent team.

Pellegrino has often swapped personnel around this season, but appears to be working out his best team, especially in defence, as Saints battle against relegation in their final 12 games of the Premier League campaign.

“We are playing with a consistent squad now, so we are not changing it around too much anymore,” he said.

“That’s nice, it’s brings up habits and relationships. Everybody knows what to do and that’s good.

“There’s still 12 more finals to go, we’re not out of danger yet. There are still a lot of improvements to be done.”

The 23-year-old revealed victory at West Bromwich Albion last Saturday, after 12 winless Premier League matches, will give the team a lift.

However, Hoedt, who was signed from Lazio in a £15m deal last summer, wants Saints, with 12 games left, to keep their focus and not become “lazy or cocky”.

He said: “We haven’t done anything yet. Now we win once but that is not enough.

“It’s 12 more finals to go and a lot of points to take. It’s not the moment to be lazy or cocky now. We just have to be focused and be willing to take as many points as possible.”

One of the features of Saints’ recent run has been Jack Stephens’ hot run of form in front of goal, having netted three goals in as many matches. His only strikes for the club.

Hoedt is happy for his centre-back partner and he wants to now push for his first goal in Saints colours.

“He’s doing really well now. He’s scored three in one week now, so that’s nice. It’s something that helps the team, so that’s good for him,” he said.

“I’m new here and I’ve had a lot of chances and I’ve missed some chances on goal, with my head as well at City, United, some other ones as well.

“You don’t have to score but, of course, it’s nice if you can. But I remember in my time at Lazio that it took a little longer as well and then I took off.

“But I want to be important as a leader and defender, so that’s the thing I’m doing now and, if I remember right, I’ve had a few assists as well already, so that’s nice.

“But the goals will come if keep pushing for it.”