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Former Southampton winger Jason Puncheon believes Saints can qualify for Europe
Updated 9:58am Monday 10th March 2014 in Sport
Jason Puncheon believes Saints are still capable of making it into Europe.
The Crystal Palace winger was up against his old club yesterday at Selhurst Park, although it was not the reunion he would have hoped for.
Puncheon made a critical error that led to the decisive goal from Jay Rodriguez, as Saints earned a 1-0 win that kept the Eagles in the thick of the relegation battle.
The teams that finish fifth and sixth will qualify for the Europa League, and it could be that the seventh placed finishers also bag a place if a top-four club wins the FA Cup.
The midfielder, who moved to Palace on loan last summer before completing a permanent switch in January, still has fond memories of St Mary’s.
“Southampton still has a big place in my heart,” said Puncheon, who swapped shirts with his friend and former colleague, Luke Shaw, after the match.
“I had a great relationship with everyone there and I had some great times.
“They are capable of getting into Europe – they have got some great players.”
As he was speaking, Puncheon received a big kiss from his former boss, Mauricio Pochettino, who had spotted him while he was making his way towards the Saints team coach.
It was a show of affection for the 27-year-old’s past contribution to Saints, although it might as well have been for the one he made to their cause.
Puncheon held his hands up to his role in the goal, as his poor header was seized on by Rodriguez to race through and score.
“I’m disappointed for myself for the mistake, but that’s football,” he said. “Sometimes you have got to be honest with yourself, because if you can’t be honest with yourself then you are never going to get nowhere.
“The ball came and I didn’t actually see Jay to my right. I headed it and, when I saw him, I tried to recover. “I nearly got there, but I didn’t.”
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