Manager Ronald Koeman says Southampton have “an ambition to get into Europe” ahead of their Premier League clash against Stoke City this weekend.
Southampton are currently ninth in the Premier League and travel to eighth-placed Stoke, who are two points ahead of the Saints.
Captain Jose Fonte is suspended for the game after being sent off last weekend in their 1-1 draw against Sunderland at the St Mary’s Stadium.
And Koeman believes that the game at the Britannia Stadium is between two sides that both “have a lot of ambition to grow”.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Koeman said: “We know we can keep clean sheets – it is difficult to score against us.
“We need to keep that and improve our attacking to create more. That makes the difference for our ambitions to the end of the season.
“We know it is a big game against Stoke who are two points above us. Both teams have a lot of ambition to grow. It is always close between us. We don’t put targets. We have an ambition to get in Europe.
“We didn’t play well at Stoke. We were surprised by the fast counter-attacking of Stoke. We learned from that. We can beat them but we need to be at our top level.”
Koeman also provided team news for the game against the Potters, and confirmed that Shane Long will be fit, but striker Charlie Austin is out of the game through injury.
“Charlie (Austin) will be out for another 10 days to two weeks,” said the Dutchman. “He will be fit after the international break. Shane (Long) is back and available. He can play.”
Speaking about Fonte’s suspension, Koeman said: “We don’t have a lot of replacements in that position but we have enough defenders and we will make the best choice for this Saturday.
“He is an important player, the captain of the team but a red card and you are suspended. It is up to the rest to replace him.”