Ralph Hasenhuttl insists Southampton need to get back in the groove fast
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl knows it will take a bit more than just refuelling his squad to get them back into top gear for Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester City.
After a seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions, the Saints were handed a reality check with three straight Premier League defeats – including one at home by relegation battlers Watford last weekend.
While taking on City for a place in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley brings with it a whole different set of problems to tackle, Hasenhuttl feels his players must quickly regain focus on fine tuning their own performance ahead of the international break.
“In every game (we lost), something different was missing, but the fact is that we haven’t played on our highest level in all three games,” he said.
“The question should be more why we didn’t do it and then ‘what can we do to make it happen again?’
“It is not like you speak about a car that you put some different fuel in and suddenly it runs better, you have to find the margins that were missing and then learn to reach this level which we had once again.
“This is something (we face) from the Premier League every week, that is clear.
“We had games where we couldn’t find our rhythm or where we have been stopped with different way of killing our rhythm. But Sunday will be a completely different game against a very good team.
“We have had games against them when we had 50 per cent possession, which is outstanding, but we also had games where we had only 28 per cent and we took a point, so everything is possible.
“We have shown in these two games (against City) this season that we are able to draw against them, but on Sunday we need to win.
“We have both had a week to prepare for this game and had some experience with (playing) each other.
“Hopefully we find a few good solutions for the game because we all know when you face one of the best teams in the world, you have to do a very good job and we are absolutely convinced that we can do that.”
One Saints player who has certainly produced the required levels this season is captain James Ward-Prowse.
The midfielder has been named in the England squad for the upcoming friendlies against Switzerland and Ivory Coast.
Hasenhuttl is in no doubt of just what Ward-Prowse, 27, brings to the side.
“A lot of players deserve to play for England and he is definitely one of them,” he said.
“After the season he has played so far, it is absolutely phenomenal the way he developed his game.
“We know about his strengths and his physical qualities which he has for our team – he is a role model of how you should act as a captain.
“He has made great progress in the time I have been here and I think he is still on the way up.
“From the way he can stand the physical demands of the Premier League is outstanding. I have never seen a fitter player than him.
“He can play three games a week without any issues and I think it is no coincidence that he played nearly every minute in the last two or three years. This is one of his biggest strengths.”
With Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold set for a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, it has been suggested England manager Gareth Southgate should consider calling up Kyle Walker-Peters as a replacement.
“The assistant coach with the national team was here I think two or three weeks ago and they know my opinion about Kyle Walker-Peters,” Hasenhuttl said.
“Everybody has seen what a fantastic job he did this season, he has played on both sides.
“He is absolutely a guy to look at and it would be great for him definitely.”
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