Nathan Jones hoping to keep Southampton progressing in FA Cup

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Southampton boss Nathan Jones has challenged his squad to take another step forward by continuing their FA Cup run alongside the battle for Premier League survival.

The Saints were edged out by Newcastle 1-0 at home on Tuesday night in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final.

There has been little turnaround for Jones to ready the squad ahead of Saturday’s visit of Sky Bet Championship side Blackpool, which will be a first game in charge for new manager Mick McCarthy.

After pulling themselves back into the fight to stay in the top flight following the World Cup break, Jones has set his sights on maintaining momentum in the FA Cup.

“As we prepare, the pressure is the same because we are trying to build something,” Jones said.

“We are trying to get to a point where we are a certain team that can win games, whatever level.

“At the minute we are finding that balance, we are evolving into that team and we are not too far off in terms of being a different side to when we came here (in November).

“It’s different kinds of pressures, different tests and so on, but the principles are exactly the same.

“We want to have an aggressive team, a team that plays on the front foot and the team that wins the game.

“It will be a stern test and the pressure is on us because we are in the Premier League, we are at home and the expectations are there. It is just another opportunity for us to take a step forward.

“It will be about us, if we turn up and we are the team that we want to be and we believe we can be, then we stand a good chance of winning the game.

“What we will come up against is a front-footed team that will work hard to be aggressive because Mick demands that, his teams have been like that and he has been very successful in doing that.

“So I know that if we take the game lightly in any kind of way, we will get punched on the nose.”

New Southampton signing James Bree will have to wait for his debut as the defender is cup-tied following a move from Luton to re-unite with his former Hatters boss.

Centre-back Duje Caleta-Car will serve a one-match ban after he was sent off late on against Newcastle while midfielder Moussa Djenepo is likely to be rested after taking a knock to the head. Jan Bednarek is also ineligible following his loan recall from Aston Villa.

With a trip to Tyneside on Tuesday night for the second leg followed by a league game at Brentford, Jones is set to utilise his squad against Blackpool so midfielder Joe Aribo is one of those who could feature.

Jones felt bringing in Bree was a “logical signing” as he looks to add some athleticism as well as “a little bit of size and aggression” to the squad.

Southampton remain in the market for additional “potency in the attacking area”.

Jones said: “We are clear on what we want, in the attributes that we need in everything, so we are working tirelessly to bring that in. Hopefully we will do that by the end of the window to give us added firepower.

“If we do add real potency and goals then I think we are in a better place, but we are not going to panic over it. If we get that, then brilliant if we don’t then we continue to work.”

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