MICHAEL Laudrup reckons Swansea City’s Europa League clash with Malmo is right in the balance — because his team are still moving through the gears.
Laudrup believes Swansea would begin as heavy favourites were the tie taking place in the middle of the Premier League season.
But he argues the fitness factor will work heavily in Malmo’s favour when the Swedes run out at the Liberty tomorrow night.
“I think if we were playing this game in three months’ time, we would be the favourites,” Laudrup said.
“But we are only just starting our season, and Malmo have already played 17 league games plus four European ties.
“It’s always difficult to compare different leagues, although of course the Swedish Allsvenskan is not the Premier League.
“But I think this tie is much more even because of the timing. They are a good team and a match-fit team.”
Laudrup has fitness headaches over a “couple of players” going into the Europa League third qualifying round first leg, with Chico Flores (dead leg) thought to be one of his chief concerns.
There could be competitive Swansea debuts for as many as five players tomorrow night, with Jordi Amat, Jose Canas, Jonjo Shelvey, Alejandro Pozuelo and Wilfried Bony all hoping to play some part.
“The new boys have settled in well. They still need to get to know their team-mates a little better, but they are already at a good stage,” Laudrup added.
“August 1 is an early start for us, and maybe in the last 15 minutes of the game the players will not be 100 per cent.
“But if you look at our last three friendlies, I think we came through them pretty well.
“Malmo only usually use 13 or 14 players so they know each other well. But we are well prepared and I have confidence in my squad.”