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The Toe Poke

Gardner: Lucky pants helping Blues

Birmingham midfielder Craig Gardner believes that the club's run to the Carling Cup final could have something to do with his lucky underpants.

The Blues face Arsenal at Wembley on Sunday and Gardner maintains that he will wear the same pair that he has done for two years, for the biggest game of his career to date.

"They are two years old, white and massive!'' he told the Sun. ''They are shocking but seem to be doing the trick.''

Gardner made the move to boyhood club Birmingham, after a spell with their local rivals Aston Villa, and scored the winner in extra-time of the semi-final against West Ham to send them to Wembley.

"For me, to be a professional footballer at any level is living the dream,'' he said. ''But to do it in the Premier League, and at Wembley with Birmingham, who I've supported since I was a kid, is an unbelievable feeling.

"I never kissed the Villa badge, even when I scored a good goal. It would have been taking the mick and I'm not that sort of person. It's different with the Blues. If I got the winner at Wembley you might just see me do it!"

The midfielder thinks that Birmingham can shock favourites Arsenal on Sunday, as the Gunners will be thinking too much about breaking their six-year trophy drought.

He added: "The final is going to be 90 minutes of blood 'n guts. I don't think Arsenal will fancy playing us. They're a young side and they're expected to win. But they've won nothing for six years and that brings its own pressure.

"That's the great thing about it. We're massive underdogs, which suits us. We know how good they are... possibly the best passing team in the world apart from Barcelona. But I won't be showing any respect in the final."


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