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Fonte inspired by 1976 and all that
JOSE Fonte has revealed that every member of the Saints squad wants to recreate the club’s FA Cup glory win of 1976.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men travel to Sunderland for a big fifth round tie this Saturday, and the opportunity to earn a treasured piece of silverware is one that the squad are taking seriously.
Saints last won the famous competition 38 years ago, and they have not been to a final since 2003.
But, boasting their finest team since the year they lost to Arsenal in Cardiff, and with few big-name clubs set to make it into the hat for the quarter-finals, this could represent their best chance in some time.
Saints are still chasing a record Premier League finish – they would need a top seven finish to do so – but Fonte believes their strong league position also gives them a platform from which they can attack the cup.
“It would mean a lot,” he said of the prospect of earning a winners’ medal. “It’s on everyone’s mind.
“We are in a good situation in the league. Having said that, we want to finish as high as possible – we want to win every game.
“But the FA Cup is something we are looking forward to, because we want to do very well.
“It would be a dream to go to Wembley and play again in that stadium, and win.”
Fonte was part of the Saints side that won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy there four years ago, but the FA Cup would be a far more significant accolade.
If Saints can advance past Sunderland, they would be just one win from a Wembley semi-final.
There is also a chance that the draw could really open up for them, in similar fashion to how it did 11 years ago when Saints only played one fellow Premier League club en route to the final.
So far this season, Pochettino has made a number of changes in the FA Cup for home ties against Championship pair Burnley and Yeovil.
Saturday’s game represents the club’s third game in eight days, with the manager having indicated that he would probably have to utilise his squad in that period.
Having made just one change for Tuesday’s trip to Hull from the team that drew with Stoke, it may be a sign that certain players will be rested to some extent this weekend.
But, if Pochettino wishes to call on all of his top stars, it seems they will be ready.
“We’re going to fully concentrate on a massive game for us,” said Fonte.
“We want to do well in the FA Cup. It’s very special for us this year. We’re going to focus on that and try and win.”
For 19-year-old full-back Calum Chambers, who is experiencing his first full season in the senior team, a trip to Wembley would represent something of a dream.
But he knows there is much work that needs to be done before that can become a reality, starting with another trip to Sunderland – the team’s third of the season.
Saints have so far failed to win – a 2-1 League Cup loss followed by a 2-2 Premier League draw last month.
Saints also needed Fonte’s late leveller to earn a 1-1 St Mary’s draw against the struggling Black Cats back in August.
“We’ve played there a couple of times,” said Chambers.
“We’ll go there expecting a good game, and we’ll just give it our best and hopefully we’ll get the result we want.”
The defender added: “I used to watch (the FA Cup) all the time when I was a youngster, and you dream of playing in the FA Cup, and the Premier League.
“Every game I play in it’s a dream come true for me.
“Getting to Wembley would be a great achievement, but we’ve just got to focus on the games we’ve got before that and really try and get there.”