Claude Puel urges players to respond positively to Wembley defeat
Claude Puel has challenged his Southampton players to put their Wembley disappointment behind them by securing a positive end to the Premier League campaign.
The Saints were beaten 3-2 in the EFL Cup final by Manchester United on Sunday in a match where they had fought back from 2-0 down before Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed a late winner.
Puel believes his squad will be stronger for the experience, with the likes of Jake Hesketh, Harrison Reed and Josh Sims all gaining invaluable first-team game time along the way to the club's first major cup final in 41 years.
Southampton travel to Watford on Saturday looking to move up from 13th place and deliver a strong finish to a campaign which also saw Puel's squad take on the Europa League.
"The journey in this competition was amazing, with young players at the beginning of the competition and after that experienced players," Puel said in an interview with the official club website, www.s outhamptonfc.com.
"We produced a great final. It was a good competition, but of course the most important thing was to win it, and this (result) is difficult for us."
Puel added: "F or now it is important to keep our concentration about the Premier League. It is a strong challenge ahead."
After playing Watford, the Saints are then not in action again until they travel to Tottenham on March 18 because original Premier League opponents United will be involved in the FA Cup quarter-finals against Chelsea.
Puel wants the players to remain focused during the gap in action.
"We will stay two weeks with just one game, and this is difficult for the concentration and motivation," the French coach said.
"It is important to rise to this difficult challenge."