Hasenhüttl targeting cup progress


Southampton's Emirates FA Cup campaign finally gets under way tonight, later than initially planned, and Ralph Hasenhüttl is hopeful there will be no quick conclusion to it.

Saints host Shrewsbury Town in a third-round tie at St Mary's, more than a week after the fixture was originally scheduled to have taken place, with a number of positive Covid-19 tests at the League One club resulting in the postponement of the match.

While Hasenhüttl has a significant number of injury troubles to contend with, it has not dampened his excitement for the start of his team's participation in the competition.

"We all know about the FA Cup and how famous it is," he said. "For us, it's a good chance like always to climb a few rounds.

"Last season we had two good games against Tottenham in the fourth round and finally lost, which was a pity, but we had a good chance to step through, and we have shown this season we are able to win against every team and then you have always a chance one time to get a title, why not?

"Therefore we need to make the first step on Tuesday with the best possible team, and hopefully we are able to put a good performance on the pitch."

Hasenhüttl explained the team which he does select will inevitably have some youngsters involved, with a number of senior players currently sidelined, but he believes they will be ready to step in and that it will represent a great opportunity for the ones who do.

"It's always a good moment for the young players to show up, to be part of the team and to learn," he said.

"It's definitely important that we give them a clear message of what we want to see and what we expect and then hopefully they are in a team that is playing some good football and working together."

Saints will be hosting a Shrewsbury side that hasn't played since late December, due to a number of postponed games, but prior to that they were on a five-match unbeaten run, winning four of those games, so Hasenhüttl is wary of the threat they could post.

"It's a tough game, like always," he said. "Cup games are always special, and although they had a long break now you know it is a good organised team and it's always tough to beat them.

"For us, it's a good challenge after the weekend. We know it is not easy to play against a lower league team. We lost in the Carabao Cup against Brentford at home, which was a tough game for us. Ok, they are one league higher than Shrewsbury, but it was very, very tough to play against them, they are fighting for everything and this is what you have to expect.

"We will have a few changes in the team, but we will take it seriously – there is no question of that, because it is a good chance for coming into the next round. It's a home game against Shrewsbury, but this game has to be played, and we know about the difficulty of it.

"To find a way through the lines is not so easy. We will not have a lot of chances I think, but we must be clinical and ensure we do not need a lot of chances – score in the right moments, but more importantly be always very committed and very disciplined.

"When we stick to the game plan and we bring our quality on the pitch, and this quality is also a quality of investing a lot, then we have a chance to win."

Hasenhüttl also sent his best wishes to Shrewsbury manager Steve Cotterill, who the club said was getting better after being admitted to intensive care over the weekend with Covid-19.

"It shows us how serious the situation is," said the Saints boss. "I'm very happy to hear I think he is out of the hospital now and I wish him all the best and a good recovery and that the worst is behind him."