Coach trip! Chopra and Johnson meet again

MICHAEL Chopra knows it is all too easy to be tripped up in the cup by manager Gary Johnson.

Two seasons ago the Blues striker was brought crashing down to earth by the cheeky outstretched leg of Johnson when racing past the dugout to celebrate a goal for former club Cardiff City in an FA Cup tie at rivals Bristol City.

The pair – who remonstrated angrily after the incident – meet again tonight at Portman Road as Johnson’s Northampton Town visit for the first round of the Carling Cup.

And with Town boss Paul Jewell planning on handing a number of his fringe players a start against the hotly-tipped League Two side, the Blues will be doing everything they can to prevent any slip-ups.

“I remember the incident,” laughed Chopra. “I scored to make it 1-0 and ran up the line to celebrate with my manager and he just tripped me up! Because it was icy I got drenched, but it’s just one of those things. It’s part and parcel of football – just a bit of banter.”

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Johnson, a man who knows Suffolk well having started his managerial career at non-league side Newmarket Town, also laughed off the incident.

In fact, he was full of praise for the striker – who scored twice on his Town debut in the 3-0 win at Bristol City on Saturday – although his recollection of their clash is a little different.

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“He (Chopra) is a very clever striker and it felt like my team played against him every other week when he was at Cardiff and I was at Bristol.

“He’s clever in that he can be out of a game and then pop up in the most dangerous of areas, unnoticed. So you’ve really got to concentrate on where he is, but with a bit of luck they’ll rest him.

“The closest I ever got to working with him was a little incident we had in the technical area when he accidentally went over my foot.

“He was a bit lairy after a goal and he ran through my private technical area, which I didn’t like, but we had a laugh about it afterwards and we smile about it now.”

Chopra is one of a number of players who could be rested by Jewell tonight for the opening round of a competition the club made the semi-finals of last season before valiantly losing over two legs to Arsenal.

Northampton were one of their scalps at Portman Road along the way.

“I’m available,” said Chopra. “Whether the manager plays me or not I don’t know, but as a forward you want to play in as many games as you can and get as many goals as possible because that’s what forwards thrive on.”

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