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(Reuters) - Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu is enjoying being one of the first names on manager Claude Puel's team sheet after struggling to nail down a place at his former clubs Chelsea and Barcelona.
Spaniard Romeu, who joined Southampton in 2015 after loan spells at VfB Stuttgart and Valencia, has appeared in 37 of the south coast club's 42 fixtures in this campaign compared with just nine appearances in his final season at Chelsea.
"It's been very good. Having games is something I needed and wanted and coming here has given me this," Romeu told British media. "It is something I haven't done before.
"But I've always been fighting for this and I've always been looking for this kind of season... I have good feelings that, as a player, I don't want to lose and want to make it last as long as possible.
"It's great to have this feeling and hopefully it won't go away."
Romeu has earned plenty of plaudits for his displays this term and has largely filled the void left by tough-tackling midfielder Victor Wanyama, who joined Tottenham Hotspur last year.
"I feel respected. I'm an important part of the dressing room, which in the way you play gives you that respect. It's something very nice... I'm really enjoying it," the 25-year-old Romeu added.
On Saturday, Southampton, who are 10th in the Premier League, host south-coast rivals Bournemouth, also on 33 points in 11th but having played two games more.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru