Saints vigil after Van Dijk injury ahead of Reds showdown
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