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Mickey Demetriou’s FA Cup Will Runneth Over . . . If He Keeps The Fox Boxed In Again As Newport County Host Leicester City

Mickey Demetriou aims to wind back the clock seven years on Sunday – and keep Jamie Vardy safely in his box.

Demetriou comes face-to-face with Vardy at Rodney Parade when Newport County host the Foxes of Leicester City in a winter warmer of a third round FA Cup tie.

A year ago Demetriou kept Harry Kane quiet for 82 minutes at the same stage against Tottenham before the England man finally scored.

But if the centre-back needs further inspiration he can go back to his – and Vardy’s – non-League days.

Vardy scored 34 league goals in his final season for Fleetwood back in 2012 but Demetriou, then of Kidderminster Harriers, recalls of their National League clash: “He didn’t score that day and hopefully he won’t on Sunday, either.

“We did lose 2-0 but Vardy didn’t get one. He’d had a really good year and scored all the time that season so just stopping him scoring was an achievement.

“He already had a massive reputation at that level going into that game. We all knew he was going to be the next big thing.

“He was a good player then, but he’s probably even quicker now and he’s become a world class player. You could tell then that he was going to make the step up.

“It was only a few months later that he went to Leicester, so it will be great to test myself against him again if we are both on the pitch.”

Demetriou versus Vardy is what the FA Cup is all about, just as it was last season when the League Two defender hardly gave Kane a kick.

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Winning their personal battle put County within eight minutes of the shock of the round, until Kane was left alone for a split second and stabbed home an equaliser top earn a 1-1 draw.

Spurs comfortably won the replay, 2-0 at Wembley, but the former Bognor Regis, Eastbourne and Shrewsbury defender reckons Kane gave him the tougher time than his first duel with Vardy.

“Kane probably gave me the harder afternoon, but that was because Vardy was younger then. But it will be a very tough afternoon on Sunday, although I’m really looking forward to it.

“It was nice that Kane didn’t score for 82 minutes last year, when he was scoring for fun in the Premier League.

“The experience was great. I was able to test myself at the very top. I can use that experience and it means there will be no panic.

“If you haven’t played in a big game before, you can get nervous and panic a little. Thankfully, a lot of this team were here last year.

“Spurs had a very strong team that day and we nearly beat them. The FA Cup still allows players to test themselves against the very best in the game. You have to want to embrace these kinds of challenges.

“We need to be solid and show them the respect they deserve – but not too much. We don’t want to be run around the pitch, because that’ll be no good for anyone.”

Last season’s Cup run, when Newport also knocked out Leeds United, earned the Welsh club a life-saving £1m and meant manager Mike Flynn was able to buy weighted plastic cones for the training field instead of the flimsy ones that blew away.

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This time, Flynn might even stretch to a buying a player of two this month while the club’s former midfielder wants the kind of inspiring encounter he had a year ago with Mauricio Pochettino.

“That was a real eye-opener for me – to be pitting my wits against a guy like Pochettino who is among the best in the world,” says Flynn.

“That’s what is special about the FA Cup. I got to talk to him after both games and we have stayed in touch by text, which says so much about the guy.

“Claude Puel has taken some stick from some Leicester fans but you can’t keep everybody happy and they are seventh in the Premier League, behind the big six. I think they are having a great season.

“But that’s the nature of the beast these days. It’s like us. There are some people who will never be happy. We have stopped the club going out of existence, moved it on leaps and bounds, and us getting to the third round again is no fluke.

“We are ready to kick on again. Last year’s Cup run helped massively to bring in finances and to rejuvenate the club for the supporters and the community.

“There was a lost generation of supporters who we have brought back and we’ve also gained some new recruits among the support as well.”


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