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Southampton v Midtjylland: Back to the drawing board, says Long

Southampton striker Shane Long says Southampton must go “back to the drawing board” ahead of their UEFA Europa League play-off clash with Midtjylland on Thursday.

Ronald Koeman’s men are without a win from their opening two Premier League fixtures and fell to a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Everton on Saturday.

That heavy loss came after Long had netted a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Newcastle United on the opening weekend and the Republic of Ireland striker says Southampton need to find their stride as soon as possible.

“Everton is a side that we feel like we should be beating to keep up how we did last year, but fair play to them, they had a good game plan,” Long told the club’s official website.

“We’ll go back to the drawing board during the week and try and figure out what went wrong and where we can improve. We’ll try and put that into form next week.

“It’s hard to look at the positives straight after when you lose 3-0 at home. But we go back and try to improve during the week.

“We know we’re better than that and hopefully we have more to offer.

“It’s just back to the drawing board and try to learn from it and plan because we’ve got four games in two weeks coming up so we have the chance to make some difference.”

Southampton reached the play-off round with a 5-0 aggregate demolition of Vitesse in the last round and host the first leg before heading to Denmark for the second a week later.

Superliga winners Midtjylland, meanwhile, enter the competition at this stage having been eliminated from the UEFA Champions League by APOEL in the third qualifying round. 

The Danes have not made it into the competition proper since 2007-08, when it was known as the UEFA Cup, and were thumped 5-1 on aggregate by Lokomotiv Moscow in the first round on that occasion.

“Out of the possible opponents, [Borussia] Dortmund and Southampton were the worst when you look at the chances to go further,” Midtjylland coach Jess Thorup said at the time of the draw. 

“It turned out to be Southampton, so in that way, the chances of getting through the needle’s eye – as we dream of – are hard. 

“It’s the last hurdle for them to reach the group stage, where they will have ample opportunity to collect international experience, so there is no doubt that it will be a great challenge for us having to meet a team from perhaps the best league in the world.”

Southampton remain without Jordy Clasie (ankle), Fraser Forster (knee) and Florin Gardos (knee).

Tue 18 Aug, 2015
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