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Koeman welcomes boost to Europa League hopes

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has welcomed Manchester City’s victory over Liverpool in the League Cup final as it is likely to open up an extra European qualification spot in the Premier League.

Provided fourth-placed City – on track to reach the Champions League – qualify for Europe through their league position, an additional Europa League berth that would have gone to the League Cup winners will instead be allocated on the basis of league performance  – with another potentially to come depending on which team wins the FA Cup.

Southampton in seventh place are among the clubs, including Liverpool, who are chasing access to continental competition next season via the league and Koeman thinks the result at Wembley should be a boost to his team.

Asked if the result was good news, the Dutch manager said: “Yes, because normally Man City will finish in the first three or four clubs in the league in my opinion.

“That of course makes it interesting [in the race] for fifth or sixth position in the table. It is interesting for the rest of the teams to get an opportunity to get into Europe.”

Southampton, who lost to Chelsea last time out in a result that snapped a six-game unbeaten streak, are away at south-coast rivals AFC Bournemouth on Tuesday but will likely have to cope without  Shane Long.

The forward has netted in two straight games but was forced off with an injury in the second half against the champions.

“Shane Long was injured, but it is not a hamstring injury after the result of the scan and that is good news,” said Koeman.

“But it will be difficult for him to be available because Saturday to Tuesday is very short. We still have training on Monday afternoon but he is doubtful.

“He is doing well, in good form and full of confidence. He is creating a lot of dangerous moments in our attack and scoring goals. You like to always have everybody available but injuries are part of football.

“We have a strong squad with good competition and if he can’t start we will play another striker in his position.”

Mon 29 Feb, 2016
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