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Hughes wants Southampton to relish relegation challenge

Southampton, who are 18th in the league and without a win in their last seven matches, have five games remaining this season starting with Thursday's trip to Leicester

Southampton boss Mark Hughes has urged his players to “to enjoy the challenge” as they battle for Premier League survival with the club five points from safety.

Southampton, who are 18th in the league and without a win in their last seven matches, have five games remaining this season starting with Thursday’s trip to Leicester City.

“The message is to enjoy the challenge. It’s not an easy situation but don’t be cowed by it, just get out there and show people what you are about,” Hughes told a news conference on Wednesday.

“You have the opportunity to make a statement every time you put the shirt on.

“There is a lot of talk about fear of failure. My interpretation of that is you should not allow people the opportunity to criticise you and use that motivation to drive yourself on to bigger and better things.”

Hughes has suffered three straight league defeats against West Ham United, Arsenal and Chelsea since taking charge at Southampton last month. He did, however, oversee an FA Cup win against Wigan Athletic which progressed Saints to a semi-final meeting with Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

The Welshman will be without Mario Lemina and Sofiane Boufal for the trip to the King Power Stadium, through injury and illness respectively.

“We’ve got a couple of omissions – Mario Lemina has got an issue with his back, which is affecting his hamstring,” the manager added. “Sofiane Boufal is ill, but apart from that we should be OK.”

Southampton captain Steven Davis returns to the squad having been out with a hamstring injury since mid-February.

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