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Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe (right) with defender Kieran Trippier. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: Southampton and Newcastle United will meet at St Mary’s for the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final on Tuesday night and both sides will fancy their chances of reaching Wembley for the final next month.

The Saints may be bottom of the Premier League and struggling but in the EFL Cup they have looked a totally different team. Nathan Jones’s side stunned perennial champions Manchester City in the last round to make it to the final four and confidence will be high. They were beaten 1-0 at the weekend by Aston Villa and are in a serious relegation battle along with Everton, Bournemouth, Wolves and West Ham but will have a much needed break away from the fight for survival with the welcome distraction of the cup.

Top four

However, the Magpies, who are in the top four of the league, will not be pushovers. They beat Leicester City in the fifth round and Eddie Howe’s solid outfit score more than they concede. He will have them up for their first domestic cup semi-final since 2005. They extended their unbeaten run to 15 games at the weekend but dropped two points in the draw against Crystal Palace and the coach will want to get back to winning ways and fast.

Before shocking City, Southampton’s previous EFL Cup games were against lower league opposition. They saw off Cambridge United, Sheffield Wednesday and Lincoln City while Newcastle – competing in the EFL Cup semi-finals for the first time since the 1975 – have had a far harder set of matches to get to the semis. They beat League Two side Tranmere but then had to face three Premier League sides – Palace, Bournemouth and Leicester.

A hint of apprehension may be creeping in for the fans after seeing their team score just four goals in their last six games. But they will feel confident of taking the advantage back to St James’ Park for the second leg. They beat the Saints 4-1 earlier in the season at St Mary’s and Howe will be hoping for a similar score line tomorrow night.

Fit to start

The home side will be without Juan Larios and Valentino Livramento and there are doubts over the fitness of Alex McCarthy, Theo Walcott and Armel Bella-Kotchap. Sekou Mara and Moussa Djenepo shoukd be fit to start while the visitors were boosted by the return of Bruno Guimaraes against Palace.

Callum Wilson has gone eight games without scoring and could find himself on the bench with either Alexander Isak or Allan Saint-Maximin starting but they will be without Jonjo Shelvey, Matt Targett and Emil Krafth.

Newcastle have one of the best defences in the country this season and they should have enough quality to win, but then again the same was said about Manchester City.