Sunderland v Southampton: Oriol Romeu seeks pre-Wembley boost by beating Black Cats

Southampton's Oriol Romeu takes on Sunderland in August's 1-1 draw at St Mary's. Picture by Frank Reid

Southampton's Oriol Romeu takes on Sunderland in August's 1-1 draw at St Mary's. Picture by Frank Reid

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Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu is determined to secure the best possible confidence booster for this month’s EFL Cup final – beating Sunderland tomorrow.

The Saints may be struggling for form in the Premier League, but they have a Wembley date against Manchester United to come in 16 days.

Influential midfielder Romeu, though, wants three points at the Stadium of Light to ease any fears of Southampton being dragged into a fight for Premier League survival.

“We need to build a little bit for what’s coming, with the final,” the 25-year-old told southamptonfc.com.

“Thinking of this next game, if we win it that will give us a massive confidence boost to go into the next one, which will be also very important.

“If we can win the next two games it will be something very nice and we could also carry on for the rest of the season.”

Saints are down to 13th place in the table following successive league defeats, and former Chelsea man Romeu acknowledges the importance of stopping the rot against the bottom club.

Romeu said of the trip north: “It is very important. We haven’t felt very good playing the last games and also playing away we haven’t played our best football, so it will be tough, because they need those three points.

“They are in a difficult situation, and if we want to enjoy the league, if we want to play much better football then we need to start winning games and to have the confidence back.

“They have had ups and downs along the season, and now they want to come back.

“They are in a difficult situation in the table, and I’m sure they want to get out from there.

“We just want to make sure they have no chances to win the game, that we go there with our heads right into the game and winning that game.

“We really need it and we really want it.

Boss Claude Puel must again do without Sofiane Boufal, Southampton’s club record signing and an EFL Cup matchwinner against Sunderland back in October, because of an ankle injury that could yet rule him out of the EFL Cup final.

The Frenchman said: “Sofiane is not available for this game and we will see for the final, for his recovery and his work.

“I don’t know for the moment. But against Sunderland he is not available.

“We have long-term injuries, but no other new injuries. We are lacking Sofiane Boufal, who is an important player for us, and that is it.”

Puel, 55, was also asked about Saints’ reported interest in Uruguay defender Martin Caceres, a free agent, and said: “For the moment, it is difficult for me to comment on this because he has not signed for Southampton.

“In the next few days, we see if he can bring something for the squad and if he signs.

“For the moment, it is just speculation and we don’t know.

“He is an international player and his quality and his spirit can be interesting.”