FA Cup Postponement Could Be A Blessing In Disguise For Southampton
Friday, 8th Jan 2021 08:54
When the news came through that Shrewsbury Town would not be able to fulfil their trip to St Mary's in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, Saints might well have breathed a sigh of relief given the injury issues at present.
Even without an injury crisis, Ralph Hasenhuttl has usually put out a strong side in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, albeit one with a few youngsters thrown in for good measure, but with the injury list he has at the moment, he would have been in a real dilemma.
The win over Liverpool saw Saints only just manage to put out a starting XI with experience and the Saints bench that night saw only Shane Long with a significant number of game to his name, Yan Valery has 30 or so but only a few of those in the last year, otherwise the rest of the bench had barely got into double figures in the Premier League between them let alone individually, with Moussa Djenepo coming off with a hamstring injury things only got worse.
So if Shrewsbury had been able to make the game on Saturday evening at St Mary's then Ralph Hasenhuttl would have had a dilemma, dare he risk any of his established stars, given his lack of back up for any of them and for that matter dare he risk the likes of Nathan Tella or Dan N'Lundulu.
Certainly with 6 Premier League games due to be played in a 3 week spell starting with the trip to Leicester on 16th January and ending with the visit to Newcastle on 6th February, there is a busy period coming up and there is also the potential of a 4th round FA Cup tie in the mix too.
So the fixture list is not good reading for Ralph at the moment as his medical staff struggle to get at least 7 members of the first team squad out of the treatment room and back on the pitch.
Although no one wants to win an FA Cup tie with a bye, Saints must be hoping that in the case of this game they do, if it was bad enough having to play the game this weekend, then having to play it in a few days time in midweek will be even worse with the looming Premier League programme coming up.
It has to be played this week otherwise there is not a gap in the midweek Premier League schedule until the midweek of Wednesday 10th February and that is when the 5th round ties are scheduled to be played, as this year's 5th round will be played midweek to squeeze it into the schedules.
FA Cup ties are not like League games which can be put back to a time later in the season, they have to be played asap otherwise other ties cannot be played and it will have a knock on affect.
So the reality for the FA is that they have no leeway on this and any other Premier League club affected by a postponement in the 3rd round, if it doesn't get played by the coming midweek it won't get played until the day of the 5th round and that would mean fixture chaos.
So it looks increasingly likely that unless Shrewsbury decide to put out a team next Tuesday/Wednesday then Saints will be given a bye.
If the Shrews did decide to do that it would be an even bigger nightmare for Ralph Hasenhuttl than having had to play the game on the Saturday, it will put an even bigger strain on his squad, just at the point that they are about to enter a very busy period of games, that on top of December and as we know that created the injury list in the first place.
So sadly Saints will be hoping that they go through to the 4th round with a bye, the whole situation if that happens, could turn out to be a blessing in disguise as it will have given them almost two weeks to get those on the injury list fit and ready to face Leicester on the 16th and perhaps just as importantly no further injuries sustained.
Photo: Action Images
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