Fab: No replay, please

PLEASE, please, no replay! That's the plea of Ipswich Town defender Fabian Wilnis.Ipswich Town entertain fellow Division One promotion hopefuls Sunderland in an FA Cup fourth round tie at Portman Road this afternoon.

PLEASE, please, no replay! That's the plea of Ipswich Town defender Fabian Wilnis, writes Carl Marston.

Ipswich Town entertain fellow Division One promotion hopefuls Sunderland in an FA Cup fourth round tie at Portman Road this afternoon.

Wilnis, having served a one-match suspension against Crewe last weekend, will return to the side at right-back today.

The Dutchman would love to experience his first long FA Cup run, but he doesn't want that to include a midweek replay at Sunderland.


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"We've been up to Sunderland already on a Tuesday night this season, and I don't want a repeat!" insisted Wilnis.

"It's such a long way to go on the best of occasions. Once a year is enough, especially during the week. I want us to do the job at home. The crowd will be behind us, and we should get excellent support.

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"We lost 3-2 at Sunderland earlier in the season. In fact we never seem to do very well up there, just as we usually get the better of them at Portman Road," added Wilnis.

It is five years since Wilnis moved to England from Holland, and yet he's still waiting to play in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Ipswich have not reached round five since 1996, when Aston Villa beat them at Portman Road. Wilnis wants that dismal record to change.

"I haven't experienced a good Cup run since I've been here. But it's every players' dream to make it to the Cup Final," continued Wilnis.

"That might be asking a bit much. However, a lot of the Premiership teams have been drawn against each other in the competition this year. All you need is a bit of luck in the draw, and a bit of luck on the pitch.

"Although we're in the same division as Sunderland, it won't be like a league game. It's all or nothing. Sometimes, you can be happy with settling for a point, but that won't be the case in this match. There will be more pressure on us to get the win.

"That might mean us being more adventurous, and more cavalier in our style," added Wilnis.

Wilnis suggesting that Town might be "more cavalier" are not necessarily words of comfort for Ipswich fans, especially those who witnessed last Saturday's thrilling 6-4 win over Crewe.

The Suffolk club are already the highest scorers (53 goals) in Division One, seven more than any other team. Wilnis himself would prefer a 1-0 victory over Sunderland, rather than a narrow success in another 10-goal thriller.

"As a defender, you're not happy to concede so many goals," said Wilnis. "Just like any goalkeeper, you want to keep a clean-sheet.

"I found it very difficult watching the Crewe match from the sidelines. It's bad enough to have to miss a match through suspension, but it's worse when you have to watch a game like that.

"I didn't enjoy it at all. I thought we were going to coast to victory at 2-0 up. Then panic set in, and things went from bad to worse. I found it very nervous to watch. In fact, I felt more nervous as a spectator than I've ever felt as a player. I know how the manager feels now."

On a personal note, Wilnis is enjoying a terrific season. The Crewe match was only the second league fixture he has failed to start this campaign. The 33-year-old is therefore champing at the bit, to return to action today.

"Our fitness coach, Simon Thadani, can't believe how fit I am this week," insisted Wilnis.

"I feel very fresh after my short break. I've trained very hard, and Simon has told me that I'm as fit as I've ever been."

Wilnis reached the semi-finals of the equivalent cup competition in Holland, while playing for NAC Breda.

In England, he'd just like to get through to the fifth round, without a replay.

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