Football - Laudrup lays down Swans gauntlet

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup has challenged his players to use a tough end to the season to prepare for their next Barclays Premier League campaign.

PA Sport

Swansea are currently eighth in the overall standings and have already reached the 40-point mark - the figure teams usually need to pass to ensure their top-flight safety.

However, with games against the top five - Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal - still to play, Laudrup is already casting his eye towards next season.

"There is always a lot to play for," the Dane told walesonline.

"For example, we are playing the top five teams between now and the end of the season and they are always games you want to do well in because people have their own ambitions and you want people to see you.

"Playing the big clubs is great motivation for any team, but also players have to look at how they can use the games. Maybe some of them can use them ready for next season to try and get a spot in the first XI because they will know it will not be easy next year because players will come in who will take the level even higher than it is now."

This season has been Swansea's most successful, after they won their first major trophy when they beat Bradford in the final of the Capital One Cup and look to be secure in the top half of the Premier League table.

Despite that, Laudrup is remaining cagey about his plans for next term.

"I don't want to go into individual things right now," he said. "Already we are thinking about next season and players to sign, but we are leaving something open to the players who are here so I don't want to go into names and positions."

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