New Huddersfield Town manager Mark Robins is excited at getting a second shot at the FA Cup, but insists the league remains the priority.
The Terriers welcome Premier League strugglers Wigan to the John Smith’s Stadium tomorrow, where a win would send them into the last eight of the competition for the first time in 41 years.
It would be a wonderful way for Robins to mark his first game in charge of the club after he was brought in as the permanent successor to Simon Grayson.
He left behind a Coventry team that he had led from the bottom reaches of the League One table towards the play-off places and into the Northern Area final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
But he was unable to steer the Sky Blues past the third round of the FA Cup, where they were beaten by Tottenham, and he is looking forward to seeing how his new club cope with Roberto Martinez’s Premier League outfit.
“I think all games have to be viewed as an opportunity and we get to pit our wits against Premier League opposition,” said the new Town chief.
Huddersfield’s last appearance in the fifth round was also against top-tier opposition, when they were beaten 3-1 by Chelsea in 2008. They last reached the quarter-finals in 1972.
On that occasion, a West Ham side featuring Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Harry Redknapp had been sent packing from the old Leeds Road stadium before Huddersfield were knocked out by Birmingham City in the last eight.
That campaign ended with the Terriers being relegated from the second tier, and with the current side sitting just three points above the drop zone, Robins is aware of how important it is to retain the club’s Championship status this season.
This does not mean he will take the FA Cup lightly, despite the club facing a trip to Nottingham Forest in the league just 48 hours later.
Wigan manager Martinez insists his players conducted themselves with professionalism during a “very positive” warm weather training camp this week.
The Latics – who with 12 Premier League games to go are second-bottom of the table, three points adrift of safety – have been in Tenerife over the last few days.
After pictures of players lying by the pool were posted on Twitter, Wigan captain Gary Caldwell issued a statement on behalf of the squad stressing to the club’s fans that he and his team-mates were working hard on the trip and “totally committed and focused on the fight” to avoid relegation.
Those sentiments have been echoed by Martinez, who has taken Wigan on similar camps for the past few seasons and expressed his delight at how this one had gone.
Ahead of the trip to Huddersfield, Martinez said: “The benefits we have had over the years have been massive.
“I understand that certain pictures can send the wrong message, but the players were very professional.
“They took advantage of being together for such a long period and we worked a lot more than we would have done here because of the weather.”
Robins sets out vision: Page 2.