EXCLUSIVE COLUMN: BAILEY WRIGHT

Harry Kewell

Harry Kewell

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The FA Cup is a competition I have followed since I was a kid back home in Australia, so being able to play a part in it is special for me.

I made my comeback from injury in the last round against Norwich at Deepdale and it was great to be back on the pitch after three months out.

We were very solid that day, right on top of our game and we had to be because Norwich put out a strong side.

Perhaps Norwich were not at their best and we took advantage of that.

That afternoon we were particularly strong at the back and I cannot remember Thorsten Stuckmann having anything to do.

Our reward for that victory is the home tie with Sheffield United which should be a decent game.

United are a strong team with some good players and have a great record in the cup competitions over the last couple of season.

They have knocked quite a few Premier League out along the way which shows they have plenty about them.

Maybe some of the big teams have not showed them enough respect and that is one of the reasons for their good record.

We will certainly not be under-estimating them in any way.

It is only a fortnight ago since we played them over at Bramall Lane in the league and got beaten.

This is a different week, a different competition, so hopefully we can do the business this time.

In terms of results, we have had a little bit of a blip in the last couple of weeks.

That is something which we are disappointed about and we’re working hard to put that right.

In football you do have off-days and you can’t win every game but obviously we don’t want that run to continue any further. Maybe a couple of games away from the league will do us good and allow us to get our form back.

We want to beat Sheffield United to reach the next round, then we have the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy second leg on Tuesday night at Walsall.

It was not great with Walsall beating us in the home leg, so we will have to be on top of our game going there.

As I remarked earlier, I do remember watching FA Cup games in my younger days.

I did not realise back then how clubs from much lower down the leagues took part because it was only the later rounds which got shown.

It is only since I came over to live in England that I began to appreciate that non-league sides had the chance to battle through to play the big teams.

The fact that a team from so far down the pyramid can end up playing someone from the top division is one of the things which makes the competition special.

I won’t pretend to remember which was the first FA Cup game or FA Cup final I ever watched.

What I do remember is that I had to stay up late to watch thee games because of the time difference between the UK and Australia. So I often felt very sleepy and sometimes struggled to stay awake!

I would have mum and dad nagging me during the games that it was time to go to bed.

The first English team I had a soft spot for was Leeds because of the two Australia players they had at the time – Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell.

Later on I switched my alliegance to Chelsea only because they played in blue, which is my favourite colour!

My recent return to action after groin surgery was a big relief. At some stage, every footballer will have a spell on the sidelines with an injury which is a bit beyond the routine.

I had a problem with the muscles in both of my groins which required surgery in October.

When you have time out with an injury, you’ve got to learn to use it to your advantage.

In the three months I was out I worked a lot on my general fitness and strength.

Earlier in the season when I was playing through the injury and not moving as well as I could do, I probably got a bit heavier than I should have been.

After the operation, I could not do any exercise for a spell because I was not allowed to get the surgical scars wet – if I had exercised I would have sweated and that can effect the scar healing up.

So I had to be spot-on with my eating and be very strict with my food so not to pile on any weight.

There was no sitting around all day eating and watching the television.

As a result, I have slimmed down quite a bit and lost some weight through the loss of body fat. Carrying a bit less weight means less pressure is put on the groins, so that can only help with the recovery.

Now I am feeling fitter and stronger than at any stage this season, training is good and it’s great to be around the squad once again.

What helped when I was out injured was having a few of the other lads in the gym with me. Jordan Hugill, Joe Garner, Andy Little and Calum Woods were all there at one stage or another.

You use each other for motivation and drive one another on.

Every now and then you would have a morning where you felt a bit low and down about being unable to play.

The other lads would see that and straight away make an attempt to pick you up, drive you on.

In no time at all you were feeling better about yourself and getting on with the rehabilitation work.

In the gym it is good to have a laugh and a joke but the reason you are there is to get fit and be back playing as soon as possible.