Southampton's Jose Fonte has been impressed with his centre-back partner Maya Yoshida since he replaced the injured Dejan Lovren in the team.
The pair have started the last four games, including Tuesday's win at Hull.
"I thought Maya was excellent - he was faultless which is a credit to him," Fonte told BBC Radio Solent.
"When you don't play consecutive games it's hard to come in and do well - it's important for him and his aspirations for the World Cup [with Japan]."
Saints have secured clean sheets in both away games since the partnership came together after Lovren sustained ankle ligament damage, and Mauricio Pochettino's side currently sit eighth in the Premier League.
Fonte, who struck the only goal in Saints' 1-0 success at Hull, believes clean sheets will be crucial for his side's progress.
"We knew Hull would be one of the hardest games of the season away from home," the 30-year-old said. "But I thought we showed a lot of character, desire and belief and we got the rewards with three points and a very important clean sheet.
"One of our goals is to finish as high as possible and results like this will help us to do this.
"The hard work that we did in pre-season is paying off because we feel strong, we feel like we can keep pressing teams and physically the boys take care of themselves."