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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 18, 2006

Champions hold no fears for Iwelumo

Colchester are gearing up for their biggest game in years but for striker Chris Iwelumo facing Chelsea in the last 16 of the FA Cup is a case of 'been there, done that'.

The 27-year-old Scot lined up against the west Londoners at the same stage of the competition on February 16, 2003 while at Stoke, with Claudio Ranieri's team knocking the Potters out 2-0 at the Britannia Stadium.

This time he has a trip to Stamford Bridge to look forward to, but his past experience against the Blues has left him with a fearless approach to tomorrow's game.

'When I was at Stoke we got Chelsea three seasons ago in the fifth round as well, so I've been there, done that,' he told U's World.

'It was fantastic, it was a good day, and because we were at home we did have a chance to get something out of the game.

'It was live on Sky as well, it was hyped up big time and it was one of those times where you had to make sure you prepared properly and didn't get too over-excited about the match.'

Chelsea will be without regular first-team defenders John Terry and William Gallas through suspension tomorrow, and Iwelumo believes the absence of some of the big names gives the Us a glimmer of hope.

'It's perfect that a few players are getting rested and a few are suspended, and I just hope Colchester turn up and we can give them a run for their money.

'I just hope the staff, the players and the fans enjoy the day. We've nothing to lose, we'll go there and try to get the best result. Hopefully Lady Luck smiles on us and we can do that.'

Iwelumo even made a cheeky remark about the state of the pitch at Stamford Bridge, insisting the surface at Layer Road is too good for them to adequately prepare on.

'The gaffer was talking about us training at our ground on Saturday but I think he should take us up to the worse pitch at the university and do it on that and then it gets us used to Sunday,' he said.

'But Chelsea have world-class players and they will be quality on any surface, and to be fair if they can do it, we can't complain.'

Centre-back Garry Richards returns from a one-match ban, and the teenager will battle it out with Pat Baldwin for a place alongside Wayne Brown in the heart of a Us defence facing the unenviable task of keeping out Jose Mourinho's all stars at Stamford Bridge.

Defender Liam Chilvers (hernia) and midfielder Kem Izzet (knee) were unused substitutes against Walsall on Tuesday night and will be short of match fitness following injuries.

Stephen Hunt and Marino Keith (both ankle) remain long-term absentees.

Boss Phil Parkinson insists Colchester's preparations have not been different to any other game this season.

'I've been to see Chelsea play and we've watched videos of them but I've done nothing out of the ordinary,' Parkinson said.

'I just want to treat it like a normal game but we know Chelsea are a lot smarter than any of the other teams we play, so we must defend better than we ever have and cannot switch off for a second.'

Parkinson is a highly-rated young manager, and he is keen to test himself against at the highest level.

'From a purely personal point of view, I'm looking forward to pitting my wits against Jose Mourinho, who I believe is arguably the best manager in the country,' he added.

'The two sides could not be much further apart at different ends of the spectrum. We are worlds apart but the beauty of the FA Cup is that it can pit two teams like us together.

'We see the draw as a pay-day - this can ultimately pay our wage bill for a whole season.

'It also gave me the ability to meet with the chairman and be in a situation where I didn't have to sell anybody during the January transfer window.

'Our aim is to go down there and give a good account of ourselves. Everybody says we will enjoy the day but we will only enjoy it if we play well.'

Parkinson believes some of his players can perform at a higher level, adding: 'We are very pleased with the preparations so far and the lads are coping well with the extra media attention.

'I'm hoping that we can separate this hype from what we actually need to do on Sunday.

'Our lads are a confident bunch and they want to play at a higher level.

'The one thing I know is that they will be determined to show people how good they are.'