Stephen Hunt dreaming of Wembley ahead of FA Cup replay with Southampton
Ipswich Town winger Stephen Hunt is dreaming of Wembley ahead of tonight’s FA Cup third round replay with Southampton at Portman Road (7.55pm ko, live on BBC One).
The Saints may arrive in Suffolk third in the Premier League and fresh from a 1-0 win at Manchester United, but Town – third in the Championship – have plenty of reasons to believe they can be the team that goes through to host Crystal Palace in round four.
Mick McCarthy’s men lost 1-0 at home to Championship promotion rivals Derby last Saturday, but prior to that they had tasted defeat just once in 21 matches and battled to a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s to set up tonight’s rematch.
“I think the FA Cup is special, for sure,” said Hunt. “The older you get – and I’m 33 now – the more you want a medal.
“Obviously that is a bit of a dream, but this is a competition where you win two or three games and suddenly you are in a quarter-final and one match away from a semi-final at Wembley.”
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There will be a full-house at Portman Road tonight for the first time in almost a decade, fans having quickly snapped up £10 tickets.
Wet and windy conditions could prove to be a leveller, Hunt – who will be one of several players coming into the side with Saturday’s league match at Millwall in mind – continuing: “Southampton are obviously a very good team, but there will be a good atmosphere under the lights and we’ll try and have a right good go at them.
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“In the first match they absolutely dominated the life out of us in the second half, but we defended well as a team and I think that draw raised a few eyebrows.”
The Irishman added: “The circumstances are different now. The Portman Road pitch is good, but it’s not as good as Southampton’s. They passed it very well at their place, but they won’t find it as easy here. The conditions could even it up, for sure.
“We’ll try and get the ground rocking early on and make it a good FA Cup tie. The fact that it’s on TV provides an extra buzz for the players. The manager has said ‘have a go’. We’ll be at full tilt.”
– See today’s EADT and Ipswich Star for full match preview. Follow @Stuart_Watson on Twitter for live match updates.