Stoke putting THEIR tin hats on for Cup clash reveals Delap
Published 16:04 18/02/12 By MirrorFootball
Valencia and Crawley have little in common but Stoke midfielder Rory Delap knows the Potters cannot afford to drop their performance level if they are to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Stoke have the second leg of their Europa League last-32 clash to come in Spain next Thursday, after a 1-0 defeat on Thursday, but tomorrow's trip to Broadfield Stadium is also an important date for Tony Pulis' side.
Four Barclays Premier League defeats in a row have seen the Potters drop out of the running for European places, putting even more emphasis on the cup.
It was their superb run to the final of the FA Cup last season, where they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat against Manchester City, that earned Stoke their Europa League place, and the chance of a repeat is a major incentive for Delap and his team-mates.
Ahead of the trip to Sussex, Delap said: "We're going there and everyone will be expecting us to win but Crawley will have a lot to say about that, it's going to be a tough game again, in a different way to what it was on (Thursday) night.
"They're towards the top of their league and full of confidence so if we turn up there thinking we'll win then we'll get battered."
The capacity of Broadfield Stadium is less than 5,000 and there is sure to be a raucous atmosphere, but Delap is confident Stoke can handle that side of things.
"It makes it a good atmosphere," he said. "It was the same when we played Gillingham (in the third round), the fans were on top of us there, but we dominated the first 20 minutes and we need to put in another performance like that.
"Obviously we'd have liked to have been at home but without doubt it's a good draw for us and a great chance of progressing to the next round.
"The lads think about the run last year and if we can get close to achieving what we did last year in the competition then it'll be great. But we can't start thinking about that because we'll soon be out of the competition if we do.
"We've got to be professional and make sure we prepare for Crawley, make sure we get through that one and then worry about what comes next."
Goalkeeper Asmir Begovic is likely to keep his place, with Pulis splitting the Bosnia international and Thomas Sorensen between league and cups, and he echoed his team-mate's comments.
"It's going to be a very tough game," Begovic said. "People looking on paper would think we should be cruising but they'll be up for it, the crowd will be in it and we'll have to be ready for an absolute battle.
"Hopefully we'll do well and progress. We had a taste of it last year and we want to get back there again."
The goalkeeping roles have reversed from last season, when Begovic played in the Premier League and had to watch Sorensen run out at Wembley, so he has a special incentive to try to help Stoke engineer a repeat.
Begovic added: "I wasn't involved last year so hopefully I can keep playing. It was very disappointing, you want to be number one, you want to be playing in all the games, but it was one of those things that happened. I understood the situation."