Toon team choice could play into our hands - Westley

Boro boss has players who want to dominate FA Cup tie

IT’S often described as degrading to the FA Cup when Premier League clubs field weakened or reserve teams against lower league opposition.

It’s a trend that has developed over the last 10 years due to the supposedly more important business of succeeding in the top-flight taking precedent over ‘distracting’ cup competitions.

However, you can be certain Graham Westley doesn’t care one bit what names Newcastle boss Alan Pardew jots down on his team sheet before Saturday’s kick off as he is focused on nothing else except his team.

“I don’t care really. It’s of no consequence,” said Westley.

“It will be good if they bring a weakened side because it will give us a sense they believe they don’t have to be at their best to beat us and that would be great for us if they had that in their mentality. And, if they bring their best side then there might be players who don’t want to be out there so, whichever way they go, I can see reasons that could play into our hands.

“We’ve got a way of getting ourselves ready for the game and part of that is about sucking in the opposition, having a look at them and seeing what they do, how they play, seeing their strengths and weaknesses and making sure we’re geared towards taking advantage of the weaknesses and to deal with their strengths.”

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“We go into games wanting to win them and the side of ‘98 drew. It’s our patch, it’s our turf and we can dictate the terms of the game. We’ve got to play to our strengths and hunger is going to be a big factor, make no bones about that. If you put two greyhounds into a trap, and you feed one, nine times out of 10 it isn’t the better dog that wins it’s the hungrier one and if you take that sort of philosophy into a game like this then that’s a big factor.

“What you’ve got to remember is that our lads are not earning �65-100k a week – they’d love to – but that’s a big factor. They’re going on show against internationals that have got those wage packets and these lads are going to want to dominate them and put their name on show. That’s the sort of mentality these boys are going to have and that’s a tough thing to play against.”

Westley insists his players will not fear their Premier League opponents and will remain positive in how they go about playing the game in front of the live TV cameras as well as a bumper gate at the Lamex Stadium.

He added: “As a group of people we don’t do fear very well. We tend not to worry about things like opposition players. Our attention always goes to things that people are good at doing. We like to be aware of the threats that people poise but from our point of view we’re quite a positive bunch and fear isn’t something we like to bring in to the way we do things.

“Let’s not underestimate a side that won the Championship last year. Ok, they’ve got a different manager now but they’ve obviously made that managerial change thinking it will take them forward. We don’t underestimate them but at the same time we don’t underestimate ourselves.”

*For the full interview, plus other pre-match stories, see The Comet’s 16-page souvenir edition which will be handed out to fans outside the Lamex on Saturday.