Nathaniel Clyne was pleased to take the first steps back on his road to recovery with a second-half run-out against Chelsea.
Clyne was introduced in place of Luke Shaw for the second 45 minutes of Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat to the Blues, and the full-back revealed he is not far off getting to full match fitness.
“I feel good, I feel fit,” he told Saints Player after the game. “I’m not at match sharpness, but hopefully that will come with playing more games and doing more training.
“Unfortunately I got injured in the Villa game which set me back for a couple of weeks, but I’ve worked hard to get back to where I am now. I feel fit and I feel ready to go again.”
The right back played on the opposite flank to his natural position, and he had praise for Calum Chambers who has taken his place during Clyne’s absence from the team.
“It’s always good to have competition,” said Clyne. “He (Calum) is playing well and I’m playing well, then we’ll battle it out to see who can stay in the team.”
Despite the tricky weather conditions, Nathaniel offered no excuses for the New Year’s Day loss, and accepted that Saints’ opponents showed their class.
“Chelsea are a quality team with a good squad and they can rotate players to bring in world class players,” he said.
“It was difficult today for us, especially with the weather as well. We don’t want to make excuses, but unfortunately we couldn’t get the result that we’d hoped for.
“We set ourselves up to have a go, to attack and get on the front-foot. We had a couple of opportunities in the first half, especially through Ads (Lallana) which might have gone in and on another day we may have won the game, but we weren’t lucky today and that will push us now going into the next game.
“We go back in training tomorrow, forget about this game and get onto the next game,” Clyne added. “You can’t focus for too long on the last game, you just get ready for the next one.
“We’re a confident team and we know what we can do against teams and how to get three points, so we’ll keep pushing and hopefully we’ll win the next game.
“We’re a good team and we’ll bounce back, I’m sure.”
There’s another game just around the corner, as Saints have an opportunity to break away from their league form and focus on the FA Cup, where Clyne sees no reason not to advance into round four of the competition.
“Definitely. Why not?” he stated ahead of Burnley’s visit at the weekend. “It would be good to have a run in the cup, and we’ll be looking to put ourselves through to the next round and into the hat.
“We’ve got Burnley at home who are a good side that are going well in the league, but we’ve got a good team too, and hopefully we’ll win to get into the next round.
“We’re not involved in any other competitions so we should have the fresh legs to go into the FA Cup and do well.”