Laudrup focused on Kuban test

23rd October 2013

Michael Laudrup says his side will have one foot in the knockout stage of the Europa League if they can beat Kuban Krasnodar on Thursday (8.05pm).

The Swans are looking to maintain their 100% record in Group A after back-to-back wins over Valencia and St Gallen.

They are one of four teams who are yet to concede a goal in the group stages of this season's competition, while their opponents have had a tricky start.

After overcoming Motherwell and Feyenoord in qualifying, Kuban have lost to both Valencia and St Gallen so far - both by a 2-0 margin.

And Laudrup admits that his side will be favourites once again come Thursday night, and is focussed on remaining top of the group.

"They (Kuban) have some good offensive players, particulary ones with speed," he said. "They are also useful on the counter attack.

"But we play at home, we'll be favourites and we want to win. If we do, we'll have nine points and one foot in the knockout phase.

"So in that sense, tomorrow is a key game for us because we want to finish top of the group to give us the best chance going into the next stage."

Thursday's game sees the Swans face a struggling side for the second time in the space of six days.

Sunderland were put to the sword at the Liberty last weekend following a 4-0 defeat, and Kuban have experienced some patchy form so far in the Russian Premier League.

"They are a side that really needs a positive result, but they are not bottom in the Russian league," said Laudrup.

"Sometimes you just need that victory, and that is what can make them a dangerous team to play against.

"Until now, we can be very pleased with what we have done in Europe. But it is still a new competition for us, and we have to take it step by step."

One player that Swans fans will recognise on Thursday is Kuban Krasnodar striker Djibril Cisse.

The former Liverpool man signed for the Russian club back in the summer following his departure from Queens Park Rangers.

But Laudrup doesn't believe that the Frenchman's experience of the Premier League will be a hindrance to his side.

"I'm not sure if it is an advantage," he said. "It is one of the top leagues, and when a team comes over here they want to do the best they can.

"They know that if they play well, then there is always the chance that they could sign for someone else.

"It is a chance to show people what they are capable of, and I'm it's the same for him (Cisse)."

Meanwhile, Laudrup confirmed that Ashley Williams is ruled out of Thursday's clash, but Pablo Hernandez returns after missing eight games.