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Swansea City v Southampton : Lots of obvious reasons this may go ahead
Monday, 3rd Jan 2022 16:11 by Keith Haynes

Russell Martin seems relatively confident this game will go ahead, albeit behind closed doors at the Swansea.Com stadium on Saturday. The same goes for saints manager Ralph Hasenhüttl, however there is an obvious reason for this.

The swans and saints have been allocated a 5.30pm kick off time for this FA Cup third round tie as it is LIVE on the BBC. The fact this tie is scheduled for TV despite no crowd to watch it in the stadium means a certain amount of money is available for the swans. Lost gate receipts will result in a claim to the Welsh government and of course tv money from the BBC. Selection issues for both sides which would most certainly see a league game called off are that more flexible. Younger players are expected to start the game, especially for Southampton.

Russell Martin, my players are ‘robust’

Martin said today, and of course confirming our news story on January 2nd. “We are looking forward to getting everyone back together" having had only ten players available last week. Hopefully we are over the worst of it," said the Swansea head coach. The last time I spoke before Christmas we had just a couple of cases, but that rose a lot in the few days after that. We had to shut the training ground down for five days because of the outbreak, on governmental advice. We then came back in just after Christmas and the guys have trained three days since then, and that was with ten players, which has since risen to twelve "

When we reported the lack of players available in training two days ago it was met with some derision, but of course as we gave always stated, we have tried and tested sources, so we felt very confident in reporting that. And now the manager confirms it. It wasn’t reported anywhere else before that.

Martin went on to say "The club doctor has been great in how he has dealt with everything,. He actually isolated himself for 10 days - he tested positive with no symptoms. He's been doing it from afar. We have had a number of players who have had to have 10 days off with no training at all and not been able to leave their houses or apartments. So it will take a bit of fitness out of them with no training and this week will be really important to get some work in. Only a handful of those who tested positive showed symptoms, and they were mild. Fortunately we can name nine subs, if we can name that many, and make five changes, that will allow us to be flexible”

Nevertheless, Martin says his players are "robust enough" "We will put out the best possible side to win the game and to try to prepare us for the next league game at Huddersfield on January 15th when hopefully we will have every single player back," he added. Martin said Swansea had done all they could to prevent a Covid outbreak. "The club has been deemed gold standard by the EFL and the health officials who have to come in and check," he said. We have had one-way systems, limits on numbers in the gym, we have not used any meeting rooms and people are wearing masks, they don't eat at the same time and are getting ready in separate dressing rooms.I don't know what more we could have done. But we had the QPR game off and a couple of days off, everyone goes back and sees their families and off the back of that we had a lot of cases."

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhüttl will play a very young side on Saturday we are told

Southampton are ready to put out an experimental side with some very young players being tipped for game time. If the game gets the go ahead swans fans should look out for nineteen year old Kazeem Olaigbe. He is banging the goals in for the saints reserve side this season. In a similar vein to Theo Walcott Olaigbe joined Southampton’s U18 side back in the 2019 summer transfer window from RSC Anderlecht’s youth system for an undisclosed fee.

Kamari Doyle at sixteen years of age is already performing at nigh on premier league standard. The youngest of those who could see action Kamari Doyle has caused quite a stir this season after scoring five goals against Birmingham City during an Under-18s game. The 16-year-old is in the first year of his scholarship with the club and already become a regular for Saints B, despite his young age. His set-piece delivery is already close to Premier League standard and he appears fearless when he plays.

Expect others to be under consideration, and don’t be surprised to see some of the few forgotten men at Swansea if transfer business stalls this week as expected. This game will be Swansea City’s first in twenty eight days, and how ironic is it that nobody can be there to watch it.

More on the pre match build up this week.

Photographs licensed from Reuters

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