Russell Martin | Cup minutes can provide big boost for league return

15th January
First team
Joel Piroe

Russell Martin believes Swansea City’s marathon FA Cup tie with Southampton has given his players a timely fitness  boost going into this afternoon’s Championship test at Huddersfield Town.

The Swans were edged out by the Saints last weekend in SA1, with the Premier League visitors advancing to the fourth round in a game that went into extra time.

It meant Martin’s players banked 120 minutes of action – their first game-time since December 11 after seeing four consecutive matches postponed due to Covid-19.

And the Swans boss feels it was a big boost as his squad return to league matters.

Nottingham Forest home Russell Martin 4

“It was very important for us. Some guys weren’t involved, some couldn’t play as they were dealing with Covid, and we still have a couple who aren’t quite ready,” said Martin.

“On the whole it was really important that we got some minutes in before we played in the league again. It was a game we should have won, but didn’t. Physically and mentally it was so important for the guys to have a game after so long out.

“We’ll all be better off for last weekend, that’s for sure.”

The Swans have lost their last four fixtures – including last weekend’s FA Cup tie – but Martin senses his team needs just small changes to turn their form around.

Defeats to Reading, Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest in the Championship mean the Swans sit 17th in the Championship, but have up to four games in hand over some of the teams above them.

And Martin is confident his team can turn performances into points.

Flynn Downes

“Every team has spells where they want better results and have difficult moments,” he said.

“It was really frustrating because we were in such a good moment and rhythm before that Reading game. Every game we could have won – we have not been dominated and performances haven’t been poor. I would be concerned if performances were poor.

“There have been moments where we’ve not been good enough and conceded poor goals. That’s something we’ve worked on.

“In the last three league games we’ve created the most chances we’ve created all season, while we conceded the least shots on our goal in the league, yet we’ve been on the wrong end of the results. What’s been our undoing is the poor goals we’ve conceded which have come down to individual errors or a misjudgement. But that’s football.

“But we can sort it out because performances on the whole have been good. Any of those three games could have gone our way.

“We’re on a poor run of three league games without a win, but good process and performances will eventually get you the results you warrant and deserve.”

Kyle Naughton

The Swans head to the John Smith’s Stadium to take on a Terriers side that currently sits in the play-offs.

Carlos Corberan’s team are six matches unbeaten in the league, and boast one of the strongest home records in the division, with only Blackburn having won more.

And Martin expects the Swans to face a tough test in Yorkshire this afternoon.

“They’ve been great,” he added. “They’ve had the benefit of giving their manager time. He had a difficult time last season. You see it a lot at clubs when there’s a lot of change and transition, but they’ve come through it and recruited well with players who fit their system.

“They have outstanding players at this level who have been in really good form in (Lewis) O’Brien and (Sorba) Thomas.

“They’ve had a good amount of time as a group and they’re benefiting from that. I’ve not doubt that we’ll eventually be the same.”