Laudrup admires Saints' approach
MICHAEL Laudrup believes Swansea City face one of their main Premier League rivals when they visit Southampton today (1.30).
Swansea travel to St Mary's to take on an in-form side who have lost just one of their opening six top-flight games.
They have drawn two and won three of the others, including an eye-catching victory over Liverpool, to move sixth in the table.
Laudrup has been impressed by that form, and reckons the Saints could be battling with his side for a top-half finish come May.
"I like the team they have. They are a team who can be in the top ten," said the Dane.
"Those spots — eight, nine and ten — are the maximum we can go for.
"There are the big sides, the Manchester clubs, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton. That's seven.
"In my opinion, the rest of us play for eighth position and down.
"We've had a very difficult start. We've played some of the top four and the big teams in the first six games.
"But this is a good test for us because Southampton are absolutely one of the best teams of the rest.
"It will be a tough test for us."
Captain Ashley Williams is hoping to return after missing the last three matches with an ankle injury, but Laudrup fears he may still not be fit enough to play.
Angel Rangel has more chance of recovering from an ankle complaint, while Pablo Hernandez (thigh) will not be risked.
Garry Monk is another who has been sidelined recently with a knee problem.
"I want Ashley 100 per cent. I don't think it's good for anyone to be on the pitch and be any less," said Laudrup.
"You can't play at 70 or 80 per cent. I will never ask a player to play if I don't think he is fit enough.
"Angel has a chance. His injury is less severe than Ashley's so he could be okay.
"With Pablo it is muscle. I think it will be too much of a risk to put him in this game so we will leave him out knowing he will have a two-week break."
Swansea's wounded have a fortnight to recover after tomorrow's game as the Premier League pauses for international matches.
But it is still not clear whether Williams will feature for Wales in World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Belgium.
"I think it is a good moment to have the break," added Laudrup.
"Then when we come back we will have three home games and an away match with Kuban Krasnodar after a huge one in Cardiff.
"It is completely different playing home in Europe as the next morning we were in Swansea instead of having to travel and come home tired after a time difference.
"It is a huge difference playing away on Thursday and then home on Sunday."