Pochettino eager for injured players to return

Mauricio Pochettino is eager for Southampton to return to full strength as they target a top-half finish in the Premier League.

Pochettino's men travel to Hull City on Tuesday and will move into eighth if they avoid defeat at the KC Stadium.

Kenya midfielder Victor Wanyama has recently returned to fitness following a long lay-off due to a fracture of his leg, but attacking midfielder Gaston Ramirez and defender Dejan Lovren are both still out with ankle problems.

And Pochettino hopes the duo will soon be back in contention to help Southampton kick on for the rest of the season.

"He's (Wanyama) had a very serious injury that kept him away from playing for two months and in that time Jack Cork has stepped up," Pochettino said.

"It's very important to us that they're competing for a position which is very good for the team and it's also very important that we start recovering some other players, like Gaston (Ramirez) and Dejan (Lovren) – it's important that they are back with us as soon as possible.

"Our mentality is always the same which is to be as high as possible at the end of the season in the table, and also our goal as always is to win the football game tomorrow (Tuesday) evening."

Pochettino is anticipating a difficult encounter against Hull, who he feels did some of the best business in the January transfer window by bringing in strike duo Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic - who both scored in a 2-0 win at Sunderland on Saturday.

"We're going to be facing a very tough Hull side who have made a lot of reinforcements during the transfer window," he added.

"I think they are one of the teams that have spent the most money in the transfer window, so yes we're fairly certain that we're facing a very tough team and a very tough opposition on Tuesday.

"I think Hull have always been a tough side and now with these signings that they've made they're an even tougher side to play against.

"They've made reinforcements in the names of (Shane) Long and (Nikica) Jelavic – these are very important players, whereas we have only let one player leave and that was (Pablo Daniel) Osvaldo.

"So overall we know we're going to be facing a very tough team."