Stoke trip is our priority, says Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup
MICHAEL Laudrup admits Swansea City face "a very heavy week" after being paired with Liverpool in the League Cup — but has told his players to zoom in on Stoke.
Swansea face a Capital One Cup reunion with former boss Brendan Rodgers at Anfield late next month — probably on October 31 — either side of Premier League fixtures at Manchester City and then at home to Chelsea.
It promises to be one of the most taxing spells in Swansea's history — but Laudrup is refusing to contemplate it yet.
"It will be a very heavy week with Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea," said the Swansea manager.
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"It's good to know we have a cup tie against a great team and a great club coming up.
"There is something special, something extra, because the Liverpool manager will play his former club and some of the players here will face their former manager.
"But the game is at the end of October and we are not yet at the end of September.
"We have four big Premier League games before we play Liverpool and the most important is the next one against Stoke.
"We can talk about Liverpool when we get closer to the game, but right now I don't want to go into it any deeper.
"For now we can only think about a very difficult game against Stoke."
Swansea were today checking the fitness of three key players ahead of tomorrow's testing trip to the Britannia Stadium.
Pablo Hernandez (knee), Ashley Williams and Jonathan de Guzman (both ankle) have all been suffering this week but Laudrup is optimistic all three will be cleared to feature.
"They all looked okay in training on Thursday and, if they are the same on Friday, we should be able to pick them," added the Dane.
"Pablo felt a twist in his knee last Friday but he is looking good now.
"Ashley and Jonathan both have injuries that would get better with time.
"Jonathan can have some rest in the international break, but of course Ashley has to play two games with Wales.
"I would not stop him playing for Wales because I know how much he cares about playing for his country."
Swansea are still without Kemy Agustien, Kyle Bartley and long-termer Neil Taylor, but Chico Flores and Nathan Dyer are back in contention after suspensions.
Dyer will compete with Hernandez and Wayne Routledge for one of two places out wide, while Laudrup faces a big call in central midfield after leaving out Leon Britton last week.
Flores is expected to return at the heart of defence — and Laudrup reckons the Spaniard has learned a lot since his sending off against Sunderland.
"I talked to Chico about his red card and about other red cards as well," Laudrup explained.
"It's another football culture for both of us, and you see different things when you come in from the outside.
"He didn't expect the red against Sunderland and he didn't expect a three-game ban, but the foreigners always have to learn and adapt in football just like in life.
"Chico knows what he can't do."