Confident but not complacent, writes James Shield.
Shane Long has acknowledged Southampton view tonight’s Capital One Cup tie against Sheffield United as a golden opportunity to edge a step closer to Wembley and end their near 40 year wait for major silverware.
But, despite entering the quarter-final tie 44 places above their hosts on the footballing pyramid, he warned his team mates will be making a grave mistake if they dismiss the threat posed by Nigel Clough’s side.
“It’s going to be another tough test and we’re going to give them the respect that they deserve,” Long, the visitors’ centre-forward, said. “I’ve been to Bramall Lane a few times over the years with Reading and it’s never an easy game.
“It’s steeped in history, Sheffield United. It’s going to be a difficult game and we’re under no illusions that it’s going to be an easy walkover.
“But we’ve put ourselves in a great position now to kick on and give ourselves a good cup run.
It’s a big stadium there. They’ve got a good following, good supporters and hopefully it’ll be a good away win for us.”
Ronald Koeman’s team, fifth in the Premier League, beat Stoke City in the previous round while United, who overcame Aston Villa and Fulham en route to last season’s FA Cup semi-finals, dispatched MK Dons.
“The manager is preparing us well for every team and we know we have that ability to go out against any team and pass the ball and play good football,” Long said. “We’ve put ourselves in a good position, getting to a quarter-final against Sheffield United.
We’re only two or three steps away from winning a medal, and it’s always something when you look back on your career, you always look for them medals.
“I was lucky to have one in the Championship, but it would be nice to get a cup one.”