And caretaker boss urges troops not to dwell on cup exit
KEITH Downing insists his players should not let their FA Cup disappointment diminish what he believes is a festive period to be proud of.
Saturday's third-round exit at the hands of Crystal Palace was the Baggies' fifth game in 15 days.
And the caretaker head coach is eager to pick up where 14th-placed Albion left off in the Barclays Premier League.
They head to St Mary's Stadium on the back of a four-game unbeaten run over Christmas and New Year that leaves them four points above the bottom three and just two points off tenth place.
“It’s disappointing because it’s the first time I’ve had to feel defeat in charge,” said Downing.
“It’s my job now to pick them up and prepare for Southampton.
“I’ve got to say, over my five games the players have given me everything; I’ve been delighted with their attitude and work.
“They’re disappointed with Saturday but they can be proud over the Christmas period of pulling things round slightly.
“It’s still tight and we’re not out of it.
“We’ve got a little breathing space with the win over Newcastle but it’s a tight affair and it will continue that way.
“We’ve got to make sure we continue that momentum from four games undefeated in the league and keep that run going.”
Downing is hopeful Billy Jones (mild concussion) and Victor Anichebe (groin) will recover from injury in time to be available for selection against the Saints.