Saints vigil after Van Dijk in­jury ahead of Reds show­down

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

LONDON: Southamp­ton and Manch­ester United have the up­per hand go­ing into the sec­ond legs of this week’s League Cup semi-finals.

Southamp­ton take a slim 1-0 lead into their match at Liver­pool to­day while United travel to Hull City to­mor­row up 2-0.

Southamp­ton are 90 min­utes away from their first fi­nal in the tour­na­ment since 1979 and James Ward-Prowse, knows they must do all they can to fin­ish the job and get to Wem­b­ley Sta­dium.

“It’s go­ing to be a great night,” he said on Southamp­ton’s web­site. “It’s ob­vi­ously a mas­sive game for the club and we have to make sure we’re ready.

“We all spoke about how we want to play at Wem­b­ley and en­joy that, so we’ve got to make sure we get there now.”

The Saints are look­ing to take out their fourth straight Premier League op­po­nents after de­feat­ing Crys­tal Palace, Sun­der­land and Arse­nal.

They’ve yet to con­cede in the com­pe­ti­tion but could be with­out a key com­po­nent of their de­fence in Vir­gil van Dijk, who suf­fered an an­kle in­jury at the week­end.

“It was a good kick on his an­kle,” man­ager Claude Puel said in his pre-match news con­fer­ence.

“It’s not se­ri­ous, but I don’t know if he can par­tic­i­pate in this game. We will see in the next days be­fore the game.”

Record eight-time win­ners Liver­pool will be count­ing on home sup­port as they try to set­tle a wob­ble.

The Reds have won just once in their past five matches over­all in­clud­ing a 3-2 league loss to Swansea on Satur­day.

“We are re­spon­si­ble for our sit­u­a­tion,” man­ager Jür­gen Klopp said. “It’s our job to bring ev­ery­body back on track.

“I ex­pect again, be­cause it’s a night game at An­field, an out­stand­ing per­for­mance from the crowd would be an un­be­liev­able help.”

Hull face the daunt­ing task of over­turn­ing a twogoal deficit to reach their first fi­nal in the com­pe­ti­tion.

“Whether it was 0-0 (or not), this would still be a tough game,” de­fender Cur­tis Davies told the Hull Daily Mail. “We have to ease our­selves into the game and take our chances when they come along. At 2-1, you never know. But the onus is on us to cause Manch­ester United prob­lems.” Hull must also over­come the shock loss of mid­fielder Ryan Ma­son, who is con­scious and alert in a London hos­pi­tal after frac­tur­ing his skull against Chelsea on Sun­day.

United, mean­while, are un­beaten in 17 matches over­all.

And after be­com­ing the club’s record goal scorer on the week­end, cap­tain Wayne Rooney is now eye­ing their first trip to the fi­nal in seven years.

“I think the next thing is the League Cup, we want to win it,” Rooney, who broke Bobby Charl­ton’s goals mark on Satur­day, said on United’s home­page. “Ev­ery tro­phy is great to win in football.”

The League Cup fi­nal will be played on Fe­bru­ary 26. – dpa

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