2/5/03 Strachan explains priorities

Last updated : 16 May 2003 By Christian Kelly

A number of fans queried Gordon Strachan's decision to leave Chris Marsden out of the side in order to prevent him from being banned for the semi final.

The side suffered in the league as a result and have lost quite a bit of ground. While the side as a whole have been fairly lack lustre, Marsden's absence is definitely noticeable down the left flank.

Strachan is quite prepared to to the same to ensure that his best side are available for the cup final.

"I cannot risk anyone," said Strachan.

"Although we want to get as high up the league as possible, my duty to the club is to make sure that when we play in the FA cup final, we give ourselves the best possible chance of winning the trophy.

"We gave our hand away when we left Chris Marsden out of the team to make sure he did not pick up a ban which would have put him out of the semi-final.
"I had to look at the wider picture and the benefits to the club and the FA Cup represented the best chance of us getting into Europe.

"If anyone is carrying any strains or not fully fit then they they will not play tomorrow because we do not have the depth of squad to cater for more injuries.
"We already have four big first-team players missing through injury. We have now lost Jason Dodd and Rory Delap while Agustin Delgado and Marian Pahars have been missing all season.

"Losing two very experienced strikers has had a big impact and i know we would be further up the table if they had been fit all season.

"But we cannot take risks. If Jason Dodd had been fit then Paul Telfer would have played last week as we would have had some experienced cover if he had aggravated the problem.

"Instead we had to use Garry Monk who has been out on loan for much of the season and who is not a right-back.

"It meant we had nothing down the right-hand side at Charlton. All the threat came down the left where Wayne Bridge was on fire.

"I want to put out the best possible team in Cardiff but it is a difficult balance to draw because I am also desperate for us to beat Bolton and get to 50 points."

"I have been in that position where other clubs have rested players against my rivals.

"I have to look after my own side because no-one else will look after you in this game!

"It is not just about this week-end. West Ham have had 35 games to get out of trouble - and we will still be playing our top two strikers. In any case we have no-one else to come in!

"We will be going all out to beat Bolton because we want to finish in the top half and to beat last season's points total."

With Saints already into Europe, a league placing has simply become a matter of recouping as much money as possible. With over half a million available for each place this is no small sum, but how can you compare it with having your hands on an FA Cup ?