“I don’t think anyone wants this season to fizzle out. Most of the excitement is going to be around the final relegation spot and the top three.
“There’s a big group [of teams] who don’t have much to play for, but every Premier League game is a big occasion watched by lots of people, judged by lots of people. [So] we need to make sure the performances are good.”
Reflecting on the fact the Saints game comes only a few days after the 2-0 win at Sheffield United, Hodgson added: “[It is] a tough programme, it’s not a given that we can take points willy nilly, but that’s what we have to try and do.
“The extra fixture comes about because of the [FA Cup semi-final.] We’ll be as we were at the start of the game against Sheffield United. It’s a big ask looking at the fixtures this week, lots of travelling.”
But the effect and demands of travelling are nothing new to Hodgson or the players: “We’re professionals, we have 38 games a year, plus cup games. Each and every one of those occasions puts an onus on you to perform to the best of your ability. If you’ve been brought in for certain skills we want to see those skills.
“The demands we make on a player to play Southampton two days after mathematically securing safety is the same as the first day of the season. Our demands are always high and I hope that the players share that, they’re proud, it’s not easy to become a Premiership player.
“You have to go through a lot of heartache, so it’s up to them to make sure every time they take the field they give the performances they know they are capable of giving and what we are demanding.”