Michael Laudrup convinced Swansea City can cope with defensive injuries
MICHAEL Laudrup is backing his patched-up defence to do the job for Swansea City during a pivotal spell in their season.
Swansea have been hit by the news that Ben Davies is likely to miss their next five matches with an ankle injury.
And there is continuing uncertainty over when Ashley Williams will return to action as the first notable injury lay-off of his Swansea career drags on.
Left-back Davies is not expected to play again before the Premier League trip to Fulham on November 23, while Williams is still feeling pain in his troublesome ankle.
Swansea's captain has played only once in five weeks and is definitely out of tonight's Europa League tie with Kuban Krasnodar.
He is also doubtful for Sunday's meeting with West Ham — and that means there are questions marks over whether he will be fit for the South Wales derby in ten days' time.
The absence of two back-four regulars is far from ideal during what Laudrup has described as a huge week, and it will be a heavy blow if both are missing for the trip to Cardiff.
But Laudrup is convinced Swansea have the quality and depth in their squad to cope.
With Williams sidelined, summer signing Jordi Amat has started five of Swansea's last six matches in central defence.
And with Davies now unavailable, Neil Taylor will get a long-awaited chance to re-establish himself at left-back.
"Right now two of the four regulars in our defence are out," Laudrup said.
"One has been out for nearly five weeks and the other one is out for three or four.
"I don't expect Ben to be back before the international break, and we have five games before that.
"But I have huge confidence in both Jordi, who has already shown he can do well, and Neil as well.
"That's good, not for me, but for the team. They know these guys are coming in and, while you have important players like Ashley who is the captain, the level of performance does not change.
"The secret is if you can put in players and it doesn't seem like it's a huge loss when the other players are not there."
Signed in a £2.5 million deal from Espanyol in the summer, Amat arrived with considerable La Liga experience and already looks to be finding his feet in English football.
"Jordi has confirmed what I knew," Laudrup added.
"He is only 21, but he is already an experienced player. He played the last four games for the Spanish Under-21s and now he is getting a run of games here as well.
"It's important for him to be playing every three or four days, and I am pleased with what I have seen from him.
"Even as a younger player, Jordi has done a great job. He gives me the impression that he has much more experience than he actually has."
While Amat is taking his first strides in English football, Taylor is trying to get up to full speed again having seen his rapid progress from non-league football hindered by injury.
The 24-year-old was regarded as one of the brightest young left-backs in the country after shining during Swansea's maiden Premier League campaign.
He began last season in Laudrup's team, but saw his campaign ruined after shattering his ankle in the third league game of 2012-13.
Taylor made a fresh start this summer, but suffered another setback when he picked up a serious dead leg.
But the former Wrexham man now looks to be approaching his best having played twice for Wales during the recent international break and looked good when he replaced Davies early in the second half of last Saturday's 4-0 triumph over Sunderland.
"I don't think any player likes to come into the squad because a team-mate got injured," Laudrup added.
"But that's how it happened with Ben when Neil got injured 13 months ago, and now Neil will get a chance.
"He will get some games to show he is back at the same level that he was before the injury, and the person who wants to get back to that level most is him.
"He has played for Wales and that will help. He came on the other day and played as well, so that is good for us. He has some match fitness."
Garry Monk could come into the squad tonight despite having his own fitness issues of late.
Swansea's club skipper made his sole appearance this season at Birmingham last month but picked up a knee injury.
"Garry is a little the same as Ashley, he has been out for some time after the Birmingham game with his knee so it is a bit the same," Laudrup said.
"He is fit, but he does not have match fitness. But with Ben and Ashley out we have Garry as back up for Chico and Jordi and if a small thing happens he needs to be there."