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‘Strong DNA’ proving key to Southampton’s survival bid – Hojbjerg

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg says it is “a joy” to play for Southampton under Ralph Hasenhuttl after firing the club a step closer to Premier League safety.

Saints captain Hojbjerg scored the only goal in Saturday’s vital 1-0 victory at fellow strugglers Brighton.

The narrow win at the Amex Stadium leaves the two south coast clubs level on 33 points, five clear of the relegation zone.

Denmark midfielder Hojbjerg, who was given the skipper’s armband following Hasenhuttl’s appointment in December, believes his manager has instilled an identity and togetherness at St Mary’s

“Technically our play could be better and sometimes our passing quality could be better,”  Hojbjerg told Southampton’s website.

“But it helps when you’re fighting like this and building a DNA and spirit around the team, with the fans and the club.

“Most importantly, the players and the coach are coming together and forming a strong DNA.

“Even in the difficult times we stand together to get these wins and that’s a joy. Everybody is competing and everyone is staying sharp.

“It’s a joy to be around the team at the moment.”

After three weeks without a game following the surprise comeback victory over Tottenham, Southampton deservedly won in Sussex following Hojbjerg’s first goal since December early in the second half.

Defeat for Brighton halted their two-game winning run in the league and drags them back into danger ahead of the midweek trip to Chelsea and next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City.

Albion boss Chris Hughton has demanded an immediate improvement and threatened to drop some of his under-performing players.

“It was a big opportunity at home to increase the gap a bit more, and there’s more pressure now,” he told Brighton’s website.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do to make sure we stay in this division.

“Everybody’s battling, and I never expected anything less until the end of the season. It’s something we have to accept, and we’ll need to show our quality and determination to get us out of it.

“I expect and need a performance against Chelsea.

“If players aren’t doing well enough now they may not play in the next game. We have competition for places here and all I’m interested in is performances now.”

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