Marsden ready to risk long-term injury by playing

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The Southampton captain, Chris Marsden, said yesterday that he is prepared to cause long-term damage to his body if it allows him to play in Saturday's FA Cup final.

The Southampton captain, Chris Marsden, said yesterday that he is prepared to cause long-term damage to his body if it allows him to play in Saturday's FA Cup final.

The 34-year-old midfielder, who has enjoyed his best season, is struggling to be fit after a tear in ligaments below his knee two weeks ago. But he said that he expects to make the match and will, at this late stage of his career, accept further harm if necessary.

"It is too big an occasion not to play and if it means damaging your body a touch then so be it," Marsden said. "I expect to play even if it will be at a push. It is an FA Cup final, isn't it? If I could be guaranteed to play next year then it would be a different kettle of fish. But it doesn't happen like that."

Marsden has played a major role in helping Southampton to secure the meeting with Arsenal by scoring against Wolverhampton Wanderers , one of his many former clubs, and created goals in other ties.

He added: "There are so many good players who have never played in a cup final. We had Matthew Le Tissier and everyone agrees what a talent he was. I don't think he even played in a semi.

"Don't worry, I will not let anybody down and the manager would be adamant that I could not put myself in that position anyway. But I expect to play."

Marsden will undergo further pain-killing injections tomorrow before a final assessment is made. The Sheffield-born player, who joined Southampton four years ago for £800,000, put into perspective what the game means.

After the top five clubs, he said, there is "a clutch of eight, nine, 10 or anyone left in the Premiership fighting for sixth down to 17th. And we are in there. How many of them have been in cup finals in the last 10 or 15 years? It is practically a closed shop."

Much of Southampton's success this season, which also includes eighth place in the Premiership and Uefa Cup football next season, has been secured through the 23 league goals of James Beattie.

Yesterday the 25-year-old striker, restored this week to the England squad, said that, despite speculation, he was happy to remain at Southampton, having recently signed a new contract. 'I'm very settled here," Beattie explained. "I've got a new life for myself and, as far as I am concerned, I will be coming back to Southampton next season and try and push the team on to a good run in Europe."

This is his fifth season at Southampton and he added: "Obviously, I am not going to say that I am not ambitious as a player, but first and foremost we have got an FA Cup final and we want to win."

Comments