Hughes: Saints must retain top-flight status

Southampton manager Mark Hughes was delighted to see his new side reach the FA Cup semi-finals but also warned that the Premier League remains a concern.

Hughes, who took over as Saints boss last week, led his side to a 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic to book their place in the last four. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Cedric Soares scored in the second half to secure the win on Sunday.

However, on the Premier League front, Southampton have struggled. They find themselves in 18th position with only eight games left in the season, and Hughes knows avoiding relegation remains their priority.

“This was an important fixture,” said Hughes, according to the Independent. “Though clearly our Premier League status is a huge concern for us and we’ve got to retain that. We had to show the qualities and traits today that a good team has to show on a regular basis and maybe they haven’t done that prior to me coming to the club.

“But the time I’ve been with them, I’ve seen good quality and application and maybe they’ve been hurt by the criticism of themselves, as individuals and as a group. Today was the first step towards addressing those criticisms. We haven’t been able to work with them very long, but I’m excited by the group.

“I think there is good quality, good traits, good behaviours which we can work on. It’s only a short-term deal, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. Now Wembley will be a nice occasion. I’ve been to a few semi-finals as a manager, but never quite made it to Wembley.

“We will enjoy it and try and take some positives out of it – to hopefully help us in our league form as well.”

Southampton will face Chelsea in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, with a final against either Manchester United or Tottenham Hotspur awaiting should they make it through.

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