SAINTS cannot afford to “feel sorry” for themselves after hitting a new low in form in the Premier League, according to young defender Jack Stephens.
Instead, Stephens, who made his Premier League debut in the 3-0 defeat at Everton, says they must welcome the 12-day break in league action as an opportunity to turn their ailing fortunes around in cup competitions.
Their first chance to get back to winning ways after three straight league defeats is on Saturday, when they head to Norwich in the third round of the FA Cup.
Saints then face Liverpool in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg at St Mary’s a week today, before returning to their league campaign at Burnley on 14 January.
“I’m hoping that will be the case,” he said, when asked if the FA Cup is a good distraction from Saints’ league problems.
“We won’t know until we get back to the Premier League [if the break has been beneficial], but hopefully we can go to Norwich and get a decent result.
“We’ve then got Liverpool in the cup, so that’s a good one for the fans. Hopefully we get two positive results and then we can start kicking on.”
“We know the tradition of the cup and what it means to the fans and the people of this country, so hopefully it will come as a bit of a break from the Premier League,” he continued.
“Hopefully we can get a good result and push on again in the league.”
Claude Puel’s troubled side should avoid wallowing in their bad form says Stephens, who is likely to start the FA Cup game at the Canaries after a solid debut against the Toffees.
He said: “We’ve got no other option. We can’t sit and feel sorry for ourselves and think what might have been.
“We’ve just got to get ready for the next game and hope we get a decent result, because it’s been three difficult results to take and we really do need a positive result against Norwich.”
The England Under-21 international, who turns 23 later this month, was pleased to take the “big step” into Premier League football, despite the poor result at Goodison Park.
Stephens came on as an early substitute for Cedric Soares, who had sustained a head injury, and did not look out of place, but couldn’t stop Saints leaking three goals.
“The result is always going to overshadow my emotion of making my Premier League debut,” he said.
“Obviously I’m happy to do so and it’s a big step for me, but it’s a disappointing day for everyone at the club.”
He added: “I’m pleased and I’m grateful to the manager and the staff here for giving me the opportunity, but it’s hard to be happy about it when you get beat 3-0.”
With Puel under increasing scrutiny from fans over Saints’ form and often unattractive style of play, Stephens was keen to announce how grateful he was to the under fire boss for handing him his top-flight chance.
Stephens made his third ever Saints appearance, since arriving at St Mary’s from Plymouth in 2011, at the Toffees.
His first ever game came against Coventry in the FA Cup exactly five years ago on Saturday.
The right/centre-back then played his second game in October last year in the EFL Cup win over Sunderland.
“I felt comfortable out there,” said. “I enjoyed playing the game. It’s always difficult when you lose to be happy about things, but I was quite happy with how I played.
“I feel in myself I’ve been ready for a while now, but it’s not my decision. I’ve got to wait until the manager decides when it’s right to put me in.
“If he doesn’t think it’s right, then obviously not the right time to me.”