Writer: Daniel Bailey
Date:Monday March 9 2009
Southampton have only conceded two goals in their last four games, and Dutch defender Jan-Paul Saeijs is partly responsible for that impressive statistic.
The giant on-loan defender has formed a formidable partnership in the heart of the Saints defence alongside Chris Perry, and speaking to the club's official site, he admits that the pairing clicked into place easily.
"When I joined I didn't know the players very well so I had to try and fit into the team quickly," he said. "It's pleasing to me though that Chris Perry and I know already where each other is going to be. He's not that tall but he wins a lot of headers from bigger players which is something I didn't know he could do.
"I feel as though I've learnt very fast and the last few games have shown that," Saeijs added. "We've defended well recently and everybody is working very hard together and it's showing well both at the back and up front so I hope that we can keep some more clean sheets."
Saeijs is well aware of the massive challenge that Southampton face if they are to maintain their Championship status, but with two home games coming up in quick succession, 'JP' is confident that Saints can haul themselves out of the drop zone.
"It's a very big week for us," the Dutchman confessed. "All games are big but we must focus on Derby because we can only look at the game in front of us. We need to beat them first and then look to the next one."
After coming away empty handed from St Andrew's after losing 1-0, Saeijs has said the players will use that game as motivation as they bid to get back to winning ways.
"We don't feel that we got enough from ourselves on Saturday," he said. "We were a little disappointed especially after our good performances in the previous games.
"Birmingham are second in the league though so it's not so bad that we lost but we don't feel that they are much better than us, they just got a goal and we didn't.
"We can perform very well and we are all happy to be playing again so soon after Birmingham because it means that we can forget about that game and move forward against Derby."
The 6'3" centre back was used as an emergency striker against Alex McLeish's side as Saints tried to get something from the match and the defender was well aware of the reasons behind the move.
"I was just used up there to try and win something for us because I can hit the headers and others can go around me but I will only go up there if we need something from the game at 1-0 down or something."
The former Roda JC defender is well aware of the importance of Southampton's home games, and he knows it is essential that the team do all they can to get the three points as Nigel Clough's men come to St Mary's.
"When we come back into the dressing room we listen out for the other results and although they haven't gone our way recently we just have to think, 'well what happens if we hadn't won?' Had we not won those three games we would be in the same position as Charlton now. However, those games have gone now and we must focus on Derby."
With Southampton having slashed ticket prices for the Derby game, there is a relatively big crowd expected, and Saeijs admits he would love to play in front of a packed St Mary's soon.
"I am very happy with the supporters here," he commented. "I would rather have the stadium full but I know that it isn't easy when the team is near the bottom of the table.
"The fans that are here each week have been fantastic to us even if we're 1-0 down they are always encouraging us and they are like a twelfth man and even when we are away from home we can hear our fans. We have a lot of fans too, at Birmingham I think we had around 1200 and that is nice to have.
"I hope that we have a lot of supporters in the ground on Tuesday even if the Champions League matches are on and I hope that we do have the supporters because I think we need them."
Date:Monday March 9 2009
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