Davies: PNE crowd can help us through

Kevin Davies and the FA Cup at Deepdale
Kevin Davies and the FA Cup at Deepdale
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Kevin Davies is confident that Preston North End can handle the task of going head-to-head with Manchester United at a packed Deepdale in the FA Cup this evening.

Although United’s form in the last two seasons has not been up to their usual standards, they still come to Lancashire in the Premier League’s top three.

But Davies says PNE have what it takes to give the Red Devils a tough game and hopefully pull off a shock result.

The full house signs are more of a motivation than something to fear and the atmosphere created by a 21,345 capacity crowd can only be taken as a positive.

Davies said: “We are used to getting some decent attendances, there were 13,000 here for the Coventry game the other week.

“We had Liverpool here for a friendly just after I signed and the place was nearly full.

“Last season we beat Blackpool in the League Cup and the crowd that night was close to capacity.

“You do get a good atmosphere here with a big crowd which is not always the case elsewhere.

“Our aim as a club is to get big crowds more often by getting promoted to the Championship.

“For now though, we have our focus on the FA Cup and we are determined to enjoy this game against United.

“The fact we are playing them in the fifth round in front of a full house means the team-talk will take care of itself.

“To be on the same pitch as United will give each player who is selected that extra 10-15%.

“We all saw how much trouble Burnley caused them in the Premier League last week.

“I think we have got the players who are capable of doing a similar thing.

“We have players who can hurt them going forward and defenders willing to push hard and put their bodies on the line.

“We have got Joe Garner back from injury recently and he scored two goals last week against Chesterfield.

“Paul Gallagher is fantastic on the ball and at set-pieces, him and Neil Kilkenny, like myself, have the experience of playing at a higher level.

“I think we can cause United one or two problems and give them a very good game.

“We have a real good mixture of experience and younger talent in the squad – some really good players.”

Davies, who turns 38 next month, is the senior member of the Preston dressing room and has plenty of FA Cup tales to tell, some of them heart-breaking.

He helped Southampton reach the final in 2003 but was not picked against Arsenal at the Millennium Stadium.

As a youngster, Davies played in the Chesterfield side which got to the semi-finals and came within an ace of beating Middlesbrough.

In his Bolton days, he also got to the last four but found himself on the wrong end of a hammering by Stoke at Wembley.

From the outside, facing United might be seen as a last hurrah as far as the big time is concerned.

His contract with PNE runs out this summer but there seems a real determination within Davies to continue his career beyond the end of the season.

“I hope this is not a last hurrah,” said the former England striker.

“We are looking to get past Manchester United and go as far as we can.

“I have certainly put no date on me retiring. I’ve got some great memories, played for some wonderful clubs and I am at a wonderful club now.

“We will enjoy this game, give it a good go and see where it takes us. I have enjoyed the build-up and we worked hard to get here.

“Against Sheffield United in the fourth round we worked hard in both games and got through.

“Going into the replay at their place we knew what the prize of winning was likely to be and to get the result we did was brilliant.

“We went 1-0 down but came back so strongly to win, that was a very good night to say the least.

“Personally, the FA Cup is a competition I love, it stirs up some good memories.

“Chesterfield was obviously the big one, the run to the semi-final at Old Trafford – that was an epic game against Middlesbrough.

“We went 2-0 up against 10 men, they got back to 2-1 and then there was the goal which wasn’t given which would have made it 3-1 – that was heartbreaking.

“At Southampton I missed out on the final and then at Bolton we lost 5-0 to Stoke at Wembley.

“So I’ve not quite got there but to help Preston win would be massive.”