Sadio Mane is convinced that Southampton have what it takes to keep pace with the Premier League's leading sides this season.
The Senegal international has been one of many bright lights in Southampton's stunning start to the campaign, with Ronald Koeman leading the club to second in the top flight after 11 matches.
It remains to be seen whether the south-coast outfit can go the distance, but Mane has little doubt that they will be near the summit come the end of the season.
"I hope and I am confident that we can hold this pace and level of playing football," Mane told FIFA.com.
"Obviously, in the Premier League there are always the three, four or five big teams which can be found at the top of the table, but I am glad that so far, there are some teams up there that could be called a little surprise, including us.
"However, we have to stay realistic. It will be hard to remain where we are today. We will give our best to defend this place, and I have no doubt we have the potential and will."
Mane left Red Bull Salzburg to move to Southampton and the 22-year-old revealed that it had been a long-held ambition to play in the English top flight - and he has no regrets about his choice of club.
"I always dreamed of playing in the Premier League and I had a very good feeling about Southampton from the first contact," he added.
"The entire philosophy, the smart way they progressively improved the team with dedicated transfers, the entire club environment and last but not least the highly professional and experienced coach, Ronald Koeman - that's why I chose Southampton as my next big challenge."comments