15 Feb Saints keeping focus on cup clash ahead of ‘fundamental’ league games
Mauricio Pellegrino insists Southampton can juggle Saturday’s FA Cup clash at West Brom while gearing up for five games he branded “fundamental” to the club’s Premier League survival fight.
Saints return to face Alan Pardew’s West Brom this weekend just two weeks on from their 3-2 league win at The Hawthorns.
The St Mary’s outfit then face Burnley, Stoke, Newcastle, Swansea and West Ham in five crucial clashes following the FA Cup fifth-round encounter.
Saints are eyeing a run of form to climb out of the relegation zone, but manager Pellegrino insisted they will not neglect their cup ambitions.
“I think we’ve got plenty of time to think about that. We are conscious that every single week we’ve got a game one at a time to prepare,” said Pellegrino.
“We’ve been working very well for this game, hopefully we’ll have a good game.
“Yes, they are fundamental games, and obviously every single game will be crucial.
“But you can’t think about the big picture all the time, you’ve got to think about refocusing our job day by day.
“You’ve got to be brave in the spirit to help to approach all those moments.”
Manolo Gabbiadini could come into Pellegrino’s reckoning to start at West Brom, with Shane Long battling a leg problem to be fit in time.
Mario Lemina has recovered from dizzy spells though, and is expected to feature in the midlands.
Pellegrino believes Saints must go all-out for victory this weekend, even though Premier League survival remains the clear overall priority.
“We have to understand now when you’ve got this possibility, the cup is an amazing thing,” said Pellegrino.
“In one game a lot of things can happen, one small thing can decide the draw, but you have to be prepared for this situation.
“In the recent two weeks we’ve had a game against them, but I imagine both teams will try to adjust to try to improve.
“And when you’ve got good knowledge about the opponent it will be really tight.
“We have to try to keep going in our way, but I imagine a really tough game.
“We want to move forward to the next round. Also it can help us to improve as a team, to introduce some players that didn’t play too much in the recent game.
“It can help us to believe more in our improvements since January.
“For those aspects it will be important to play seriously, try to win the game, try to do our best, and any of both teams got nothing to lose.
“You have to go forward because it’s like a final. We’ve got this possibility and it’s amazing.”