Yoshida always wanted to stay

Southampton defender Maya Yoshida has revealed the thought of leaving the club never crossed his mind.

The 25-year-old centre-back had limited playing time during the first half of the season due to the form of Jose Fonte and Dejan Lovren.

However, Lovren sustained ankle ligament damage in the 2-2 draw with Sunderland. Since then, Japanese international Yoshida has fought his way back into Mauricio Pochettino's starting line-up.

He told the Daily Star: "It is very good to be back in the team and I am happy to be playing again. There is a very good competition for defenders and centre-backs so I need to keep applying myself.

"When I wasn't playing, the team was playing very well so I couldn't be disappointed but I tried to be professional and wait for my chance.

"I did not think about leaving. My dream is to play in the Premier League and have success here. Why would I play half a season then go to another club or another country. That's crazy."

Yoshida, who has started Southampton's last three games, admitted that he is targeting achieving a Europa League spot with the South-Coast club and also revealed that he wants to secure a spot in Japan's squad which will travel to the World Cup.

He added: "I'm looking to play in the World Cup. If we have to chance qualify for Europe it would be a big opportunity."