“Finishes and starts to the season are always very important,” he said in his pre-match interview. “You can’t deny or underestimate the importance of them. A lot depends on how the programme pans out.
“You can get a good start if you’re kindly dealt a programme or a bad start if you’re harshly dealt a programme. We have a tough finish: Arsenal, Aston Villa and Liverpool. But we have the players: if we need substitutes to go on and change the game, we’ve got them; if we need replacements for injuries we have them.
“So there’s no reason why we can’t at least hope to have a good finish to our season. If we get it, it will be a great confidence boost going forwards.”
Hodgson praised tonight’s opponents Southampton, who have had a difficult season.
“We are confronted by a good team – we’re quite impressed with their lineup,” he said. “We are aware that this is a game that they will be going hell for leather to win. We’ll have to match the performance at the weekend without a shadow of a doubt.
“If we can do that then I’m hoping that we can cause them the same sort of problems they might cause us, and then it will be a question of who gets the rub of the green on the night. We come into this game with a fair bit of confidence, but we also give this Southampton team respect, who I believe are a lot lower in the team than their league position deserves.”