Defender Sonny Bradley has described the FA Cup as a ‘wonderful competition’ ahead of Derby County’s First Round tie at Sky Bet League Two side Crewe Alexandra on Sunday (2:45pm kick-off).
Derby will make the journey to Chesire to take on Lee Bell’s promotion chasers in front of the ITVX cameras at The Mornflake Stadium and Bradley has fond memories of the competition from his career so far.
The experienced centre-back made his first league start since mid-August in Tuesday’s 4-0 Sky Bet League One home win over Northampton Town and the 32-year-old is now eager to kick on in Derby colours.
On what the FA Cup means to him...
I still think there's a lot of magic in the FA Cup. In the past there was probably a little bit more magic there and it probably meant a little bit more to clubs.
However, for me as a player and I think I speak for all the lads, it's still a wonderful competition and our only real chance now this season to come up against a top club in the country.
I've played in some good FA Cup fixtures in the past, so we want to win, we want to go into this tie positive and we've got a job to do.
On if the players are still excited by the competition...
Your bread and butter is the league and we understand that. We are trying to gain promotion and that's our main goal but if we can go on a good cup run then we'll take that as well. I think everyone at the club will too!
We're not bombarded with fixtures right now so I think we can put everything into it, especially with the international break coming up.
On his personal FA Cup highlights...
We played against Chelsea a couple of years ago whilst I was at Luton Town which was a magical game, but there were no fans there so that took the shine off it a little bit.
The whole point of drawing these big clubs, especially away from home, is for the fans. The players love it and we love challenging ourselves against the best players, but to take your fans with you away from home, that's what it's all about.
With Plymouth Argyle we went to Anfield around six years ago and it wasn't a glamorous game by any stretch. It was an uncomfortable day for both teams and Liverpool didn't really get going, but it was full credit to us because that's how we wanted it and we drew 0-0 to force a replay. It's a memory that will probably stick with me for the rest of my life.
On the team building momentum...
I think we've struggled with consistency and everybody knows that. I don't think we've had dreadful performances but we've not really been able to get back-to-back winsin the league and that's something we need to do. In order to do that, we need to keep up our results in the next two games which are cup games with Crewe in the FA Cup and Wolves Under-21s in the EFL Trophy. We come up against Barnsley after that and it's a game we're looking to win.
On cementing his place in the side...
I understand it's a team game and everyone will play their part. I hadn't started a league game for two months before Northampton on Tuesday and that had left me a little bit frustrated. That frustration is pretty natural, though, for any footballer that cares about their career and wants to play games, so I've been a bit fortunate with getting my chance after Eiran Cashin got five yellow cards but I feel I put in a strong performance, probably my best in a Derby shirt.
It's my job now, if given the chance again, to perform at those levels again and perform consistently.