Sunday Times

Saints hoping for reprieve in FA Cup

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A place in the FA Cup final would rescue Southampto­n’s season after a disappoint­ing run in the Premier League, says manager Ralph Hasenhuett­l.

“A cup final can definitely turn things around 100%, it would be a super successful season definitely,” Hasenhuett­l told reporters ahead of today’s second semifinal against Leicester City.

“When you see what teams are there — Chelsea, Manchester City and Leicester — it is for us a big success.”

While the Saints reached the last four without conceding a goal, knocking out holders Arsenal along the way, their league form suffered and they dropped from third to 14th after Hasenhuett­l focused on a cup run.

“We had some very good moments this season. We had been very high up in the

‘I’ve been made aware of the history, losing four finals, that gives me motivation’

table for a short term, then we had very big problems with injuries,” Hasenhuett­l said.

Meanwhile Leicester City’s Ayoze Perez, James Maddison and Hamza Choudhury have turned the page on their Covid-19 breach and are determined to play well, manager Brendan Rodgers said.

British media reported that Maddison and Choudhury had attended a party at Perez’s house after a 2-0 Premier League defeat by Manchester City and the trio were subsequent­ly left out of last Sunday’s 3-2 loss at West Ham United.

However, all three players are available for today’s FA Cup semifinal against the Saints at Wembley — Leicester’s first appearance in the last four of football’s oldest knockout competitio­n since 1982.

“It’s a really exciting period. They know they have to focus for the rest of the season ...

These guys have made a great contributi­on to us. We are in this position because of them.

“There will be a choice again, and hopefully they will make a better one. We always have to look forward and the best way they can do that is by their actions on the field.” Leicester, who have never won the trophy, are aiming to reach the FA Cup final for the first time since 1969 and Rodgers said his players were not overawed by the occasion.

“The magnitude of the game is clear,” he added. “You don’t need to shine a torch on it anymore. We want to arrive in the final but we can only do that by performing well. If you get too nervous, it can immobilise you.

“I’ve been made aware of the history, losing four finals, that gives me a greater motivation.” —

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