Play with no fear in FA Cup tie, says Swansea City boss
Russell Martin has told his Swansea City players to play with excitement rather than fear in their FA Cup test against Premier League opposition.
The Swans take in their first game for almost a month following a spate of postponements over the festive period due to Covid, with top-flight side Southampton the opposition at the Swansea.com Stadium this evening (5.30pm).
Having seen four consecutive matches postponed against QPR, Millwall, Luton and Fulham, the Swans will be in competitive action today for the first time since December 11.
And Martin, who still has a few players unavailable due to Covid, will send out his team telling them to embrace the challenge of taking on a Premier League outfit.
“It will be a tough game against Premier League opposition. It will excite everyone here, and it’s an opportunity to show what we can do,” said the Swans head coach.
“Everyone’s looking forward to the game because it’s been such a long time since we last played.
“If you’d said earlier in the season we’d have four weeks without a game I would have taken it, because it would give us a chance to work on the training pitch. But we haven’t been able to do that.
“The break would have been nice if we had a full squad and we could get them up to speed, but it’s not been that way.
“The guys that have been here have worked brilliantly on certain aspects of our game.
“We are hoping we can translate that onto the pitch. It’s one for the guys to be excited about, rather than fearful.”
The Swans reached the fifth round of the FA Cup last season, eventually bowing out to semi-finalists Manchester City.
Now they host the Saints in round three, and Martin holds the tournament in high regard.
“Any competition we play in is important. The FA Cup is world renowned. You grow up watching the cup finals,” he added.
“It’s not lost the glamour to anyone playing in it. It’s a huge competition and it’s a trophy at the end of the season for the winners.
“For us, it’s hugely important because it’s the next game and we’ve not played for a while. It’s at home too, although we have the disappointment of not having fans because of the rules.
“We are looking forward to playing against a team that has had a lot of time with their manager, but I hope we’ll bring what we want to the party.”