Koeman targets European qualification

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has urged his side to maintain their good run of form in order to secure a place in Europe for the second consecutive season.

With two of England's three Europa League spots going to the winners of England's domestic cups, Southampton's only chance of European football next season is if they finish in the top six of the Premier League.

The Saints currently lie sixth in the table, just a point behind fifth-place Manchester United after winning five of their last six matches.

"Of course we have some objectives before the season," Koeman said at his pre-match press conference ahead of Southampton's match against Chelsea on Saturday. "What we did last season meant we got an opportunity to play in Europe – and that's our ambition.

"It's not about if we finish fifth, or that we need to do better than last season. Football is difficult – we enjoy the moment of the season but we know also that after a good run it is difficult to continue that, and we have a tough one this Saturday."

Koeman also confirmed that long-term absentees Jay Rodriguez and Florin Gardos are back in training, although a lack of match fitness means the pair are unlikely to return for this weekend's fixture.

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