Ralph Hasenhuttl: We must be ready to face Leeds if cup tie is called off again

Southampton are due to play Shrewsbury in the FA Cup on January 19 with their scheduled Premier League match with Leeds 24 hours later being moved.

By Press Association Published: 14 January 2021 - 10.30pm

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl feels he still has to prepare his side for the possibility of facing Leeds in the Premier League next week should their re-arranged FA Cup clash with Shrewsbury be cancelled at the last minute.

The FA Cup third-round tie, due to be played last weekend, had been postponed because of a coronavirus outbreak at the Sky Bet League One club, with a new date now set for Tuesday, January 19.

However, that in turn meant the scheduled visit to Elland Road on January 20 will be moved to an as yet unconfirmed date.

The uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic has already seen this week’s planned Premier League schedule switched at late notice because of the continuing problems at Aston Villa – with Fulham then having to play Tottenham at just 48 hours notice.

Hasenhuttl believes given the current climate, Southampton have to be ready for anything.

“At the moment it is a strange situation. It is a different situation to a normal season, we know this, we have to handle this,” the Saints boss said.

“It is not always ideal and it can also be that maybe when the Shrewsbury game is again postponed that we suddenly have to play against Leeds on Wednesday. This is also possible, so we have to prepare for this.

“It is also not normal, but we are not in a normal season. In a normal season there are some circumstances that you have to handle, it is not perfect but it is better than not playing football.”

Hasenhuttl added: “You never know and the possibility is still there because we know about the tight schedule of the Premier League and this is not ideal what happened for example with the Tottenham game against Fulham.

“But we have to be prepared for it because it is a special situation. It is not normal yes, but for everything we have to be flexible.

“If this happens (FA Cup tie called off), I will not be surprised and will try to work out a game plan for the Leeds game – what is also possible in two days.”

Hasenhuttl, though, remains confident the 2020/2021 domestic campaign will be completed.

“We have big squads and the interesting thing will be when teams start playing when they have more cases and start playing with players who are not so well known in the Premier League,” he said.

“I think it’s also a chance for some young players to get a first step in the Premier League.

“It’s important also for people sitting at home in lockdown that we continue the game, and we can do that if we are disciplined.

“This must be the message, that everyone knows that he is responsible for the future of the Premier League season.”

Southampton forward Danny Ings is expected to miss Saturday’s trip to Leicester after recently testing positive for coronavirus.

Ings scored the only goal in the 1-0 win over his former club Liverpool on January 4, and has been in self-isolation.

Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy has, though, now ended his own period of isolation after a positive Covid-19 test and is available again.

Given the timeframe involving Ings, the England international having completed 77 minutes against Liverpool, Hasenhuttl maintains all protocols have been followed.

“This is the message we get sometimes that you can still be contagious before you have a positive test,” he said.

“We don’t know since when he was contagious. It could have been that after the last negative test he picked it up somewhere and then in the (Liverpool) game he was positive, because the next day he was tested positive.

“But it was the only case. We were a little bit scared about what would happen if we had more cases or not.

“But it seems the way we are handling everything here and the way we are working together is still keeping us in a safe environment.”

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