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Football: Laudrup tells Swansea to take initiative in final

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Swansea City coach Michael Laudrup says his side should have no concerns about being branded favourites ahead of their meeting with fourth-tier Bradford City in Sunday's English League Cup final.

Swansea will be appearing in their first major cup final, but their achievement pales in comparison to that of Bradford, who have eliminated three Premier League sides en route to Wembley Stadium.

League Two Bradford are the first team from the English fourth division to reach the League Cup final since Rochdale in 1962 and Laudrup says Swansea must be prepared to shake off their own underdog mindset as a result.

"I would think if you go back, it's very rare to see a major final between a small team in the top flight and a team from the lower leagues," said the Dane.

"When teams from lower down get to the final, it is normally against Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham or Liverpool -- like when Birmingham played Arsenal (in 2011).

"This is different because although we are one of the lower teams, we have to accept we are favourites and we must take the initiative in the game.

"We have no problem with that and we accept the majority of people will want Bradford to win as they are the underdogs.

"We have seen what they have done to Wigan, Arsenal and especially to Aston Villa over two legs.

"It is fantastic. If you say what we have done is a fairytale, then the fact Bradford are there is a huge fairytale."

Laudrup also confirmed that Spanish centre-back Chico Flores will not be available to play at Wembley after he ruptured ankle ligaments in the 4-1 league win over Queens Park Rangers on February 9.

"Chico tried today (Thursday) to go out and train, but it was much too early, we all knew that," said Laudrup.

"It is an injury you would normally estimate to be out for four to eight weeks and this Saturday would be two weeks.

"It is such an important game, but today he realised it is much too soon and he has to accept the fact."

In Flores' absence, Kyle Bartley and club captain Garry Monk will vie for the right to partner Ashley Williams in central defence.

Laudrup also revealed that German second-choice goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel will continue between the posts, having been preferred to first-choice custodian Michel Vorm in Swansea's previous games in the competition.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130221/football-laudrup-tells-swansea-take-initiative-final