From playing Playstation as Thierry Henry to facing the Gunners for PNE’s Robinson

Callum Robinson scores the winner against Blackburn.

Callum Robinson scores the winner against Blackburn.

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A computer game will become reality for Callum Robinson when North End look to upset Arsenal at Deepdale on Saturday.

At 21, the PNE winger grew up watching some of Arsene Wenger’s great sides, including the Premier-League winning invincibles of the 2003-2004 season.

Thierry Henry.

Thierry Henry.

Robinson admits that Thierry Henry was his player of choice when spending hours on his Playstation, dreaming of a career in professional football.

Now Preston welcome Alex Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Wenger’s current crop of Gunners as they look to spring a surprise in the FA Cup third round, with the TV cameras in town.

“Thierry Henry is the man,” said Robinson.

“When I was a kid, even on the Playstation games, he was my main man.

The former Aston Villa youngster scored a hat-trick at Havant & Waterlooville in his first FA Cup appearance

The former Aston Villa youngster scored a hat-trick at Havant & Waterlooville in his first FA Cup appearance

“The team with Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg obviously, that speaks for itself.

“Now there are Sanchez and Ozil, who are players that excite me.

“Obviously they won’t excite me on Saturday.

“We’re on TV so I think they’re waiting on an upset.

“Hopefully can we repay them with one, that’s the plan.”

Whether the big guns play remains to be seen, Wenger having been both critical of the hectic Christmas and New Year schedule and having a tendency to rest players in cup competitions.

Robinson believes it does not matter who gets the nod however, such is the strength of Arsenal’s squad.

“Even their B side, if you can call it that, is good, they’ve got quality throughout the squad,” said the former Aston Villa youngster.

“Whoever he puts out, it’s going to be a tough one, even though if they do make a few changes it might work in our favour.

“They drew against Bournemouth (coming from 3-0 down to level it up at 3-3 on Tuesday night) and he might want a win to get things rolling again so it might be a strong team.

“It doesn’t matter who plays though, we’re going to give it a right go.

“I’m sure the fans will come out in numbers and back us and bring a great atmosphere and we can bring the energy on the pitch.”

Robinson has seen plenty of FA Cup action in his short career, scoring a hat-trick in PNE’s 3-0 win at Havant & Waterlooville back in 2014, as he had the perfect introduction to the competition.

Then later in the season his second spell on loan with the club began against Manchester United as Simon Grayson’s side impressed before bowing out with a 3-1 defeat in round five.

“In my first ever FA Cup game we went down to Havant, won 3-0 and I got the hat-trick,” he said.

“It was a good night for me, I’ve got the ball framed up back home. That’s how much it meant to me.

“We’ve obviously had United here as well and we probably went 1-0 up too early in the second half and it was hard to keep them at bay for 30 to 35 minutes.

“But I think we’ve grown as a squad since then.

“We were in League One when we played United but we’ve got better players now, more quality and experience than two years ago.

“In the Championship we play against better quality players too and hopefully that can make a difference on Saturday.”

Having come through the ranks at a big club in Aston Villa, Robinson always relishes the chance to test himself against the very best.

“This is where in my head I want to be, at the top level,” he said.

“If I can show that I can handle it and hopefully do something against tough opposition then it will be good for my development.

“As a group it will be great just to see where we’re at and how we can handle ourselves.

“Some of the lads in the changing room have played in the Premier League.

“If we can do well then we can bring huge confidence back into the league after that.”

PNE head into the game six points shy of the Championship play-offs, with the Boxing Day defeat to Leeds having been a rare bump on what has been a relatively smooth road since the slow start to the season. A draw against Sheffield Wednesday which would have been three points but for Adam Reach’s late equaliser and a win at Burton followed meaning there has been no time to be distracted by their plum cup date.

As Preston boss 
Grayson rotated his squad, Robinson started all three games with the forward relishing his central role this season.

“I feel okay, I’m a young lad so this is what I want,” he said.

“I want games, I want game time, I want to be playing different teams.

“I’ve been happy with the performances.

“I feel fresh, we’ve had a couple of days to rest 
before getting back to work.

“We’ve had a lot of league games over Christmas and we can look forward to it now.

“It’s been in back of my and I think all of the lads’ minds.

“It’s a big fixture with Arsenal coming here.

“It’s where you can challenge yourself and play against the best.”