Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl rants about Newcastle United fixture once again

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Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl insisted his players are “ready for the challenge” of facing a “completely different” Newcastle side on Thursday night.

The Magpies were set to kick off their fixtures for 2022 with a long trip to the South Coast on 2nd January - but a mixture of Covid-19 cases and several injuries in the United camp saw the Premier League agree to postpone the fixture.

Hasenhuttl hit out at the decision at the time, claiming “injuries are not Covid cases” and went on to suggest any signings made by Newcastle during the January transfer window should not be allowed to feature in the rearranged fixture.

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United spent around £90million to add Dan Burn, Chris Wood, Matt Targett, Bruno Guimaraes and Kieran Trippier to their squad during the window - although the latter will miss the majority if not all of the remainder of the season with a foot injury.

Bruno may have to be content with a place on the bench if Eddie Howe retains faith with the side that beat Brighton as the likes of Joelinton, Fabian Schar, Joe Willock and Ryan Fraser all get a chance to continue their undoubted improvement since the former Bournemouth manager took charge at St James Park..

Despite stating it was not for him to discuss, Hasenhuttl gave his opinion on the situation surrounding the game and stressed he is confident his side will “show a reaction” following their 4-0 weekend defeat at Aston Villa.

He said: “(It is) strange now to concentrate on a game you should have played two months ago against a completely different team.

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“But it is what it is, how things are changing, but this doesn’t affect us, definitely not.

“(We are) also better than two months ago, so we are ready for the challenge.

“It’s not on me to discuss this, we spoke about there was a chance in the transfer window to change the team completely.

“I think they did.

“It was expected they would do it but no matter with what players are coming here, we are looking forward to this home game.

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“We have our crowd behind us, we have a very good atmosphere in our stadium, we have a good run and we are going here with all the belief we have built up.

“You can be sure that we will show a reaction from the Saturday game.”

The former Austrian international did reserve praise for the job Eddie Howe has done since he was appointed as Magpies manager in November.

“Absolutely good, fantastic,” said the Saints boss.

“They have stabilised the team, stabilised the club and stepped out of the relegation zone.

“There is not really a big threat of relegation anymore and they are on a good run of form.

“It will be an interesting game.”

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