Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl insists his side are taking the FA Cup seriously, so will “play the best possible team”, but has also hinted he will rotate his squad for the third round visit of Huddersfield.
The Saints, semi-finalists in 2017-18, are on a fine run of form in the Premier League, with New Year’s Day’s 1-0 win over Tottenham their fifth in eight games.
However, on the back of a hectic festive period, Hasenhuttl will give an opportunity to some of his fringe players against the Championship Terriers.
“We must have a look; we had a very busy period with a lot of very intense games with short breaks in between,” the Austrian said.
“We have a few players waiting for their chance to show up and also wanting to be part of this winning team at the moment and wanting to show that they are able to win games for us.
“So it will be not so easy to find the right balance of making the rotation for the FA Cup.
“We want to take this challenge very seriously in this competition. Last season we lost in the third round and we want to do it better at home in front of our fans.
“Everyone enjoys playing in this ground and we want to keep the momentum.”
Saints will be favourites against Huddersfield, who are struggling at the bottom end of the Championship following their relegation from the Premier League last season.
But Hasenhuttl is wary, given their exit in last season’s third round to Derby.
“We want to concentrate on this competition, the FA Cup is important for us, we want to go as far as possible and the best possible team will start on Saturday,” he added.
“When you play at home against a Championship team everyone expects a win. But everyone knows it is a cup game, special rules and laws.
“It is never easy, but the most important thing is to find a team that can do this workload that we need for our game.
“If it is with three or four new players then it is not a problem, they are hot now and will want to show that they can also be part of this team and that is the reaction I want to see.”
One of those players who could be set for some action is striker Che Adams, who has been linked with a loan move to Leeds.
Adams has not scored in 17 appearances this season but Hasenhuttl says he will be an important player in the second half of the season.
“I cannot consider that I loan him out because I need every player, especially in the attacking position, we don’t have that many,” he said.
“I know he is not so happy at the moment because he didn’t play so often and did not score but I think we know what we have with him and we know that we need him in the second half of the season.”
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