Carlos Carvalhal insists he will not risk Swansea’s Premier League status for FA Cup glory.
Carvalhal has extra motivation in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday as he makes a swift return to Sheffield Wednesday – the club where he spent two-and-a-half-years before departing on Christmas Eve.
Victory would also secure Swansea’s first quarter-final in the competition since 1964, but manager Carvalhal has promised to rest several first-team regulars ahead of key relegation battles in the Premier League.
“We won’t take any risks and there will be changes because I will protect some players, I’m absolutely sure about that.” Carvalhal said.
“Ask me to stay in the Premier League or win the cup, and I say Premier League because it is more important to the club.
“As a manager it would be fantastic to be with the trophy.
“I was at Wembley with Sheffield Wednesday (in the 2016 Championship play-off final) and I loved it, I want to go back there in my career.
“But I am not selfish because I understand the priority of the club – and that is to stay in the Premier League.”
Carvalhal rotated his squad in previous rounds against Wolves and Notts County.
Swansea still had enough to win those ties, albeit after replays, and cup progress has come alongside excellent league form.
Carvalhal has taken 14 points from 21 for Swansea to climb off the foot of the Premier League and escape the bottom three.
The Portuguese must now try to maintain that momentum without cup-tied pair Andre Ayew and Andy King and a raft of injuries ruling out the likes of Leroy Fer, Wilfried Bony and Renato Sanches.
But he said: “We will not change our path compared to what we did in the past.
“We are playing against a good side in the Championship and it is very difficult to play at Hillsborough.
“We are underdogs there, not because we are worse than our opponents but because we are outside our main competition which we are completely focused on.
“We will try our best to go to the next stage and if we win it will be fantastic. But if we do not get to the next stage, then it is OK.”
Carvalhal’s successor Jos Luhukay has taken Wednesday into the fifth round for the first time since 2014 by knocking out Carlisle and Reading.
But the Dutchman had to wait until Tuesday’s 2-0 home win against Derby, his sixth league game, to register his first success in the Championship.
“The reality is injuries have given him the same problems as me in my last games,” Carvalhal said.
“But when some of the players are back I think they are strong enough to be in the top places of the division.”