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The Saints' impressive start to the season has been dampened by a run of just two win from their last 10 Premier League games, but the manager is pleased with his squad's output

Mauricio Pochettino is backing his young Southampton side to go from strength to strength in the second half of the season.

The south-coast club exceeded expectation at the start of the campaign as they found themselves in the top four in the Premier League.

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But they have since dropped down to ninth place after winning just one of their last eight games - and face a tough test against third-placed Chelsea on New Year's Day.

However, coach Pochettino is optimistic heading into 2014 as young players such as Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse continue to enhance their burgeoning reputations.

"I think the evolution is correct, it's positive. We're on the right path. The team has many young players - we're a very young side," said the Argentinian.

"The philosophy of the team, the style of the team has changed ever since we took over. The team is still growing and maturing.

"We will see at the end of the season how far we can go. I think sometimes we forget the main point is that, for example [in Sunday's 2-1 defeat at Everton], we had four or five players that were 17, 18, 19 years old and are starting to come into the side and starting to get their first team experience.

"We were facing an Everton side that has a lot more experienced players. We were facing a team that already has experienced players while we're still nurturing and developing young talent.

"I think we sometimes lose sight of that and tend to think ahead of ourselves. The focus is always to win the next game and keep on growing and maturing as a team."

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