Steven Caulker to get Southampton start vs. Liverpool in Capital One Cup

Steven Caulker will be trusted to lead Southampton's defence in the absence of captain Jose Fonte in Wednesday's Capital One Cup quarterfinal against Liverpool.

The Portuguese was forced off during Saturday's 3-1 Premier League defeat at Manchester City with a cut on his knee that required stitches.

Fonte will, as a result, be unavailable for selection on Wednesday, so Caulker, who impressed manager Ronald Koeman as his replacement at City, is to retain his place.

The quarterfinal clash represents a rare opportunity for the promising central defender following his loan move from QPR in the summer.

The Capital One Cup tie with Liverpool will be just Caulker's fifth start for Saints -- a tough match that the defender approaches buoyed by Koeman's confidence.

"I was very pleased how Steven came onto the pitch and did a great job against City and he will start," Koeman, an elite-level defender at his peak, said.

"Maybe Steven is as strong as [Christian] Benteke, if he plays. And that's not a problem for Steven because he is physically a strong defender and has the confidence to start.

"Yes, of course [he had to be patient]. Maybe he had some difficulties in the beginning and of course Jose was in front and Virgil [van Dijk] in front in both positions Steven can play.

"I'm not a manager who changes a lot if the team is doing well, but always the question to the players is when they get the chance, you have to take it.

"That's also the reason after Saturday that I said to Steven he will start."

The tie will see a number of familiar faces return to St Mary's, having swapped the south coast for Liverpool in recent years.

Many believe the departures of key players such as Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne has prevented Southampton from becoming more successful.

Winning the Capital One Cup this season -- and Koeman has made no secret this is a priority -- would not only represent their first major trophy since the 1976 FA Cup, but would help them progress beyond their present level.

"First, [winning a trophy] is well deserved for the club, all the people in the club, all the fans," the Dutchman said.

"Second, of course, it is the next step. That is one of the meetings we had with the team at the start of the season -- about improving, being better than last year.

"We know it is difficult, really very difficult, to reach the same level, because in one-and-a-half years we lost 10, 11 players, a whole team.

"It's difficult [to lose players]. When I came to the club, I knew already that we would lose some good players.

"We lost, after last year, [Morgan] Schneiderlin and Clyne, important players for the team.

"Of course, we would like to keep the best players, because that means that we can grow and grow."