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Blackpool to field weakened team for FA Cup tie

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway
Holloway said he did not care how people reacted to his decision

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway says he will field fringe players in their FA Cup third round tie with Southampton as the Premier League is more important.

The Seasiders lie 13th in the table and have four Premier League games this month, including home matches against Liverpool and Manchester United.

"Our priority all season has been to maintain our status [in the Premier League]," he said.

"With as many games as we have got this month, that is what our focus is."

Holloway's team selection hit the headlines in November when he rested 10 Blackpool players for a Premier League game against Aston Villa before they came up against strugglers West Ham.

606: DEBATE
Pikeypete

He then threatened to resign when it was suggested he may be punished for making so many changes, saying team selection was entirely his business.

He insisted his plan for the Southampton game was not out of disrespect for the FA Cup - which the Lancashire club won in 1953 and reached the final of in 1948 and 1951 - but a decision that was being made purely for practical reasons.

"It's a fantastic competition. I'm not going to belittle it. We'd love to win it but we have no chance with the squad we've got," he said.

"I don't care about anyone else. What am I worried about anyone else for?

"I am doing my job, and I am trying to make Blackpool a Premier League team.

"We have got an FA Cup game every week - Man United at home or Tottenham away.

"That's a dream come true - an FA Cup game every week. That's what it feels like to us and we want a lot more of it."

The FA Cup seems to have been a reduced priority for some teams since Manchester United declined to enter the tournament in 1999-2000, so they could compete in the Fifa Club World Championship instead - a move that manager Sir Alex Ferguson has since said he regrets.

Fixture congestion and fears over player burn-out are often cited as other reasons for players being left out of Cup ties at this time of year.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he would definitely rest Robin van Persie and possibly Samir Nasri for their game against Leeds.

"I have somewhere in my mind that I will make changes, but I don't know who will play," he said.

And Newcastle manager Alan Pardew hinted he may make changes from the side that beat West Ham 5-0 for their game against Stevenage.

"It worries me because it's the end of a cycle of games that has been too much," he said.

"[Sunderland boss] Steve Bruce mentioned it - these elite athletes shouldn't be going through this sort of structure.

"This game is our third in a week and our fifth in 13 days, and yet later on in the programme, it opens up a little bit and you have lots of rest."

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see also
Holloway not shocked by Blackpool
28 Dec 10 |  Blackpool
Holloway demands selection choice
13 Nov 10 |  Premier League
Aston Villa 3-2 Blackpool
10 Nov 10 |  Premier League


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