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Fan Focus: The Ugly Inside Talk Saints v SAFC

Sunderland have a rather unfortunately timed cup game this evening away at Southampton, a club just about every Sunderland supporter is envious of. Gav spoke to Nick Illingsworth from The Ugly Inside to have some crack ahead of the match.

When we last spoke at the end of August, you were hopeful for the period ahead under Claude Puel. Have your feelings on him changed in the last two months? How has his reign been thus far?

Claude Puel has turned around a lot of doubters in the last two months - when Sunderland arrived back in August the natives were restless after a slow start to the season, and it is fair to say that the draw back then did not help his popularity.

However, since then he has had time to work with the entire squad that he didnt have pre-season due to the European Championships, and has got them playing to his way. The supporters have seen and appreciated what he is trying to do.

There is still a way to go, but the season looks far more promising than it did after that 1-1 draw.

It’s been a pretty decent week to be a Saints fan I imagine – having beaten Burnley convincingly last week, you headed off to the San Siro on Thursday to take on Inter Milan before drawing with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium this weekend, albeit picking up a goal through rather fortuitous circumstances. How positive are the Southampton fans right now, and how hopeful are you of doing well in one of the cup competitions this season?

Saints fans are a lot more positive than they were two months ago - we see that we have a decent team and have a chance in the cup competitions and this represents our best chance of glory and another season in Europe. I am surprised that so many teams do not take the domestic cups seriously, after all they represent the best chance of not only glory but of European competition. Too much today is on not getting relegated from the Premier League - me, I would rather finish 17th and win the League cup than finish 7th and not get into Europe.

Since Puel came in he’s utilised Charlie Austin more than Koeman did, and in return he’s seen some good performances from him. Should he be playing for England, especially considering the poor form/injuries of the national team’s other strikers?

In fairness, Ronald Koeman didn't have Charlie Austin fit for most of the time he was here last season, so it's not been so much a question of utilising him but of having him fit. We knew he had injury issues when he arrived, that is why he cost £4 million and not the £15-20 million that a striker of his quality would normally cost. Puel has used him sparingly and for a reason.

Did you expect Nathan Redmond to start as well as he has done, now playing a more central role as opposed to being the wide player he was at Norwich? He’s someone I really wanted us to make a move for in the summer.

There are some who are still not convinced about him in a central role - Austin is pushed out too wide sometimes, so there are those that think Redmond would be better out wide.

Sam McQueen seems to have come out of nowhere. How good is he, and what are the hopes for him – is he a future England left back or is it too early to say?

Up until eight days ago McQueen had only 14 minutes first team action to his name, that was against Sunderland in our FA Cup defeat in early 2014 - back then he was a winger, but Puel converted him to a left back in pre-season as with Bertrand out injured he only had Matt Targett and needed back up.

His Premier league debut was as a sub last Sunday against Burnley and his full Premier debut came against City - its a bit early yet, but he looks the part and seems to suit the system a little better than Targett, who is more a traditional style of full back.

One of the many advantages that Southampton have going into this game is that you’ve got a squad that is essentially equipped for mid-week cup football, having played in the Europa League amongst other things so far this season. What kind of team should we expect to see from the Saints on Wednesday?

Once again we will make some changes, but injury will force our hand a little and we might put out a better starting line up than we would have if everyone had been fit.

The rotation system keeps everyone fresh and in contention, as well as match sharp.

Give us a score prediction!

I will go for 3-1 but I always go for that - I thought City would win 3-1 on Sunday so what do I know!

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