sport

Laudrup relishing Spurs test

Michael Laudrup believes a trip to Tottenham is the ideal fixture for Swansea after they reached their first cup semi-final in 48 years.

The Swans booked a Capital One Cup last-four place despite an often laboured performance in a 1-0 win against npower Championship club Middlesbrough, with Seb Hines' late own-goal deciding the tie.

Swansea join Arsenal's conquerors Bradford, Aston Villa and either Leeds or Chelsea in the penultimate round next month.

But there is little danger of the Welsh club being distracted by cup fever, as their fixture schedule will not allow it.

"It's great to have the semi-final there, but I am happy we play Tottenham away on Sunday," Laudrup said.

"That's perfect, because I know on Sunday everyone will be focused once again.

"It would have been much more difficult to play a home game against a smaller team on Sunday or Saturday, so Tottenham away is perfect."

Swansea City have not reached a semi-final since losing 2-1 to Preston in the 1963-64 FA Cup, when they were known as Swansea Town.

Despite off-field financial troubles at the time and a second division relegation battle, their cup run was highlighted by a stunning quarter-final victory over Bill Shankly's Liverpool.

"I think all the teams left in the competition think they have a possibility to go to Wembley," Laudrup added.

"We think that, Villa and Bradford as well. It is fantastic. That is what these competitions are all about.

"We didn't play well in the first half (against Middlesbrough), but it wasn't because the players didn't have the right attitude or focus. We were too tense."

Starting against Spurs, Swansea face a programme of six league and cup games in three weeks before the semi-final first leg.

"The next game (semi-final) is not Wembley, it's Bradford, Birmingham, Leeds or London," Laudrup said.

"And before we play the first leg, we have Tottenham, Man United, Reading, Fulham, Aston Villa, and Arsenal in the FA Cup."

Due to Chelsea's Club World Cup commitments in Japan this week, their quarter-final tie at Elland Road is next Wednesday, and Laudrup believes it could be a testing fixture for them.

"For me, it is a 50-50," he added.

"Chelsea come back (from Japan) I think on Monday, and then they play Wednesday. Leeds away? That is not easy."

For Middlesbrough, it is back to the Championship grind and maintaining their strong promotion hopes, although the Swansea trip appeared to have taken a toll.

They made the 320-mile trip home on Thursday, while also assessing injuries to the likes of Andre Bikey and Faris Haroun ahead of tackling Wolves on Saturday.

Middlesbrough's former West Brom manager Tony Mowbray said: "We went through a 46-game league with West Brom and got to an FA Cup semi-final the same season, so you have to manage the games, you have to keep the team positive, keep believing.

"You have spells where you go three or four weeks with midweek games every midweek.

"You have to get through them, and then give the players enough rest and recovery ready to go again. It's always a balance between rest, playing and training."