THE FA Cup always used to mean a lot to me as a player. I have been blessed with good memories of the competition – and some not so good – but we don’t need to mention my red card for Preston in a 4-2 defeat to Arsenal after bringing down Marc Overmars when he was clean through.
Playing against my club, Everton – at Goodison Park, was a highlight of my FA Cup experiences.
I’m sure today’s third round clash will mean a lot to Jay Rodriguez too.
He will be looking forward to the opportunity to face his former team and former team-mates.
Southampton have been the surprise package of the Premier League this season. The manager has got a fantastic bunch of players that he has moulded into quite an exciting team to watch.
There are a few players who have played for Burnley in the past on their books, like Jack Cork and Danny Fox, but out of all of them this game will mean the most to Jay.
He has blossomed as the years have gone on, he gets better and better and physically he looks a different player since he went into the Premier League. He’s had the opportunity of playing for his country as well, and hopefully there are more caps to come.
I’m not too sure if Southampton will treat it as a must-win game but either way I think we have a good opportunity of progressing.
But I won’t be too disheartened if we don’t.
That’s not to devalue or disrespect the competition.
A lot of people are saying the FA Cup doesn’t have the same feeling as it used to. Certainly when I was a player it was the best competition in the world and I don’t feel any differently about it now.
But in the position we are in the Championship we don’t want anything to get in the way of our promotion chances in the second half of the season, or become a distraction.
We proved in the 2008/09 season that it is possible to combine a good league run with a cup run.
It will be a good test for us against Southampton, and a reasonable gauge of how far we’ve come and still have to go.
But I don’t think cup progress is the be all and end all for Burnley.
Not this season.