Fleetwood assistant head coach Rob Kelly says the magic of the FA Cup still casts its spell as Town look forward to tonight’s televised tie at Southport.
Ex-Leicester City player Kelly insists the cup is no distraction and says Town will field a strong side at Haig Avenue in their bid to embark on a good run in the tournament.
Kelly and head coach Uwe Rosler attended their National League opponents’ home match with York a fortnight ago, when Southport won 2-0.
And Kelly says that scouting mission has led him to expect a good footballing spectacle for the BT Sport cameras tonight (7.45pm kick-off).
He said: “I’m from a different generation, I suppose, but as a kid growing up the early rounds of the FA Cup were a big thing.
“And obviously this gives us a chance to take the next step in the world’s greatest cup competition.
“If we can get through this one and get into the hat, hopefully we’ll still be competing in the cup when the top clubs enter in January.
“It is not a distraction for us. We are really looking forward to it.
“For me and the people round here at this club, there is still a magic about the FA Cup and the further you go the more exciting it gets.”
Tonight’s match won’t kick-off until the second round draw has been completed at Haig Avenue.
It is scheduled to begin around 7.10pm, with Southport/Fleetwood number six in the draw and Blackpool number 40.
Kelly is happy with their first-round draw, adding: “We could have been travelling 300 miles or whatever, so this is a good tie.
“We have seen Southport play. They have had an upturn in form since the new manager (Steve Burr) has come in and are unbeaten in their last four.
“We managed to see them play against York. They played well and deserved to win, so it will be a tough game (and Southport have since won again at Torquay).
“But the cup is tough whoever you draw. There are going to be some upsets in the first round and our job is to make sure we are not one of them.
“We have prepared for it exactly like we prepare for a league game. We will do everything we can to get the right result.”
Huddersfield loan midfielder Kyle Dempsey is expected to feature, but Town are tight-lipped as to whether fellow loanees Chris Long, Kieran Wallace, George Glendon and Alex Jakubiak have been cleared to play by their parent clubs and so risk becoming cup-tied.
One Town player who definitely will not feature is full-back Conor McLaughlin, who has joined up with the Northern Ireland squad ahead of their friendly with Croatia a week tomorrow.
Fellow full-back Michael Duckworth is also a doubt with a groin injury.
Kelly said: “Conor will be a miss because he is a good player and he has played most of the games for us.
“He is away on international duty but it is not something that has come out of nowhere.
“We knew it was happening and we have prepared for it. This will give someone else an opportunity.”
As for Duckworth, he added: “Michael has not trained at the moment but we will keep our fingers crossed and see how he is.
“Any team we put out will be a strong team and we will put out a competitive first team. I know it is not a local, local derby, but it is a North West derby in the first round of the FA Cup, on telly and under lights, so I’m expecting it to be competitive.
“Southport are a team that wants to play as well and I think there will be some good football played.”