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Campbell: “We have to earn the right to play.”

Blues boss on this weekend’s FA Cup tie against Dover

7 November 2019

Sol Campbell is looking forward to his first taste of the Emirates FA Cup First Round this weekend but is fully aware of what to expect.

Campbell is a four-time winner of the competition in his playing days, three at Arsenal and once with Portsmouth.

And ahead of Sunday’s live TV game against National League side Dover Athletic, the Blues boss made it clear how he wants his team to approach it.

"We've got to be ready but we have to earn the right to play,” he said.

"I don't care where Dover is [in the league pyramid], you've got to earn the right.

"The first rule of any football game is earn the right to play. Earn the right.

"My job is to make sure that the players know it's not a normal game. It's not a normal game.

"People try to do heroics, people try all different types of things to see if they can get into the hat and at the end of the day it's all about getting into the hat.

"It’s a warm distraction for us and it’s probably come at the right time. Hopefully the magic of the Cup brings something out of us.”

Following three league defeats in his first three games as manager against difficult opposition, Blues travel to Kent looking to get the new manager his first win.

The way to get that?

"Play our football and take our chances,” Campbell said. "But the main thing is earn your right.

"Nobody is going to give you anything, there's no divine right to win a game and the FA Cup you've got to really realise that because we've seen over the decades how many cup upsets from all sorts of levels. So we've got to be ready.

"If we can just stop our little mistakes here and there, we're good."

Blues welcome Ethan Hamilton and Stephen McLaughlin back from suspension with Sam Mantom the closest to return from injury.

But Sunday will come too soon for the midfielder.

"He's just started [doing work]. For us it's not about rushing people back. It's getting people back at the right time.

"If he progresses, kicks on and surprises us that's what it's all about. We're in a position that we can't afford to rush people back.

"If you come back early and then break down again, you say to yourself why didn't we give them another two weeks or 10 days.

"We'll welcome him back when he comes back.”

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