(Reuters) - Struggling Southampton are faced with one of their most important matches of the year when they take on south-coast rivals Bournemouth in quarter-finals the FA Cup on Saturday, manager Ralph Hasenhuettl said on Thursday.
The Saints have struggled in the Premier League due to injuries and a dip in form in the second half of the campaign to sit 14th in the table, but Hasenhuettl said it was worth the risk to field his strongest team in the FA Cup.
Southampton beat defending champions Arsenal in the fourth round and Wolverhampton Wanderers last time out and Hasenhuettl is targeting silverware in what has otherwise been a difficult season for the team.
"The cup for us is to have a chance to win a trophy and this is why we took it seriously from the beginning. We didn't pick our best team against Wolves and Arsenal to now say it's not important. It's very important," Hasenhuettl told reporters.
Southampton last won a major trophy when they claimed the FA Cup in the 1975-76 season.
"We said when we were in a better position in the league we could also concentrate on the Cup, with the risk we have then a few more injuries maybe. But we took this risk... because of having a game like we have on Saturday," Hasenhuettl added.
"... We have a chance to get to the semi-final of the most traditional competition in English football. I think it's for us, the players, the staff, the fans, everybody in this club, maybe the most important game of this year."
Bournemouth, who were relegated to the Championship (second-tier) at the end of last season and dismissed manager Eddie Howe, stunned Burnley in the fifth round.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)