Saturday, February 25, 2017

League Cup final: Zlatan worry for Southampton

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

London: Southampton manager Claude Puel has backed his patched-up defence to deal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Saints are without key defender Virgil van Dijk for Sunday’s Wembley showdown with Manchester United in the EFL Cup final.

Instead teenager Jack Stephens, who is almost half Ibrahimovic’s age, is set to be handed the job of shackling United’s superstar striker. But Puel, who came up against former Paris St Germain player Ibrahimovic while managing Lille in France, insists the in-form Swede holds no surprises for his side.

“I know Ibrahimovic very well from the French Premier League so I cannot be surprised by him,” said Puel.

“In France he was a fantastic player but all the people say ‘Okay, it is the French Premier League and not the English one’. But he has come here, he is 35 and he can do a fantastic job, fantastic work. He is clinical, very efficient and also he gives a good authority to the team. He is a strong man and a strong partner. At Paris St Germain, he gave a good atmosphere around the team and gave his team fantastic confidence. He doesn’t run a lot but always makes good runs.

“We’ll see if Jack starts this game. But for me of course I’m confident with the player, with the squad. I saw at our training camp in Spain very good concentration, very good spirit, quality in the training sessions. All the players can play in my team against Ibrahimovic,” added Puel.

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