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Southampton Manager Ronald Koeman Criticizes Fixture Schedule


Ronald Koeman is not wasting time and energy fretting about Southampton's mounting injury problems, although his frustration with the fixture scheduling is clear.

Saints are in their best-ever position at this stage of a Premier League season, with the impressive win at Manchester United meaning they enter the weekend sat third.

Wednesday's win at Ipswich also means they remain in the FA Cup, although these victories have come at a cost as Toby Alderweireld, Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama have all been injured over the past week.

Wanyama's setback has been particularly frustrating for Koeman, with the Kenya midfielder facing a month out with a hamstring injury sustained during the third-round replay at Portman Road – a match the Dutchman sees no need for.

"I don't put too much energy in that problem [of injuries] because you can't do anything about that," Koeman said.

"You can always look to what you are doing in the training sessions and how we recover the players, but we haven't trained in the last few weeks because we played so much.

"It's a problem with the schedule that the players have during what normally has to be a winter break.

"We have to play. Another replay? Come on, please, play the FA Cup with extra time and penalties. Why a replay? Another game – it's crazy."

The injuries brought on by that schedule compound the pre-existing problems Jay Rodriguez and Sam Gallagher have, as well as the absence of Maya Yoshida, Sadio Mane and Emmanuel Mayuka due to international commitments.

Koeman is confident Saints can "handle this" number of missing key players, although concedes that will change if that list grows further.

The Dutchman can at least call upon Eljero Elia against Newcastle this weekend, having been ineligible to face Ipswich, and Jack Cork could come in, having returned from an injury lay-off with 45 minutes for the under-21s on Monday.

Shane Long will have also given Koeman food for thought with his display against Ipswich, against whom his strike was enough to secure progress in the cup.

"Shane showed his quality and his confidence," the Saints boss said.

"It's not a question about his confidence, it's that in the last few games he didn't start in the team.

"We need everybody and we need Shane, and if Shane gets the opportunity he has to show his qualities like he did."

If Long is to feature, he may have to again play out wide with Graziano Pelle likely to lead the line at Newcastle in Saturday's late kick-off.

Alan Pardew's exit and murmurings of discontent at St James' Park would seem to make this a decent time to face the managerless Magpies, but Koeman will not be taking them for granted.

"I don't think it is a good time or a bad time [to face them]," Koeman said. "Every game is different.

"They play at home, they have had some defeats in the last few weeks and, for sure, they will have some fans feeling [bad] about the 4-0 that they got in Southampton.

"But we know they are a strong team at home. They beat Chelsea at home, but it is not easy to beat Southampton."

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