Swansea City are sweating on the fitness of star striker Oli McBurnie ahead of their FA Cup fifth round clash with Brentford on Sunday.
The Scottish international was only well enough to play for the final 30 minutes in the 2-1 defeat at Leeds United earlier in the week, but appears crucial to Swansea’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals for only the fifth time in their history.
“Oli has had a couple of bouts of flu and has taken his time to get over them. He had a couple of days in bed, has been on antibiotics and has felt really low,” said Potter.
“Playing him from the start against Bristol City knocked him back a bit and he’s still not 100% better. He is getting better, though, and we knew the maximum he was able to play at Leeds was 30 minutes.
“I heard the crowd singing for him at Leeds and I understand where they’re coming from, but when you’ve been through that type of illness it’s unfair to put him into a situation that’s damaging to him
“We hope he can play a bigger part against Brentford because he’s our main goal threat and links up play well. You could see his quality when he came on at Leeds.”
McBurnie clawed a goal back with a penalty late on at Elland Road. That was his eighth goal in his last seven games and his 16th of the season.
No wonder then, with so few alternatives up front, Potter is desperate to get his 22-year-old striker into the action from the start.
“Whenever you lose someone like Oli, it tests the group, but the challenge then is to find a solution,” added Potter.
“We did that against Millwall, but we don’t know if the result would have been different had we had him from the start at Leeds. Oli is a top Championship player and we’d love to have another three or four like him.”
Swansea reached the last eight last season when they were in the Premier League, beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 in a replay, before going out 3-0 to Tottenham. They last reached the semi-finals 55 years ago.
“I’m a million miles away from thinking about Wembley. I have far too much respect for Brentford to do that,” said Potter.
“At this stage everybody thinks they have a chance to go through to the quarter-finals, that’s the nature of the Cup. But we know we’re playing against a good team, a side that is as good as anybody in the Championship when you look at their form.
“It was pretty breathless at Brentford earlier in the season. They were not in a good moment at that point and we got into a lead without doing too much.
“Then they came right back into it and we could see their quality in the second half. It could have gone either way, but they’re in a different place now.
“It’s a surprising stat that Swansea have only reached the quarter-finals four times before. We can’t think too much about that, we just need to focus on the game on Sunday.”
As well as a slight doubt over McBurnie, Potter will be without experienced campaigners Wayne Routledge, Leroy Fer and Declan John. Nathan Dyer is also nursing a tight hamstring.
“We’ll pretty much have the same squad that travelled to Leeds. We’re hoping Leroy (Fer) will be back with the group next week and that by the time we play Sheffield Wednesday a few more could be available,” added Potter.
THE SWANSEA CITY RECORD IN THE FIFTH ROUND OF THE FA CUP
1926 – Millwall 0 Swansea 1
A club-record 42,000 fans crammed into The Den to watch this closely-fought contest that appeared to be heading for a replay, until Jack Fowler popped up with the winner three minutes from time. Swansea then beat Arsenal 2-1 to set-up a semi-final clash with Bolton at White Hart Lane, which they lost.
1927 – Swansea 2 South Shields 1
Following a 2-2 draw at Horsley Hill five days earlier, the Swans got the job done at Vetch Field thanks to goals from Harry Deacon and Len Thompson. They then lost 3-1 at home to Reading in the quarter-finals.
1934 – Swansea 0 Portsmouth 1
After victories over Notts County and Bury, the Swans were sent packing by a single-goal defeat against the eventual finalists.
1937 – Sunderland 3 Swansea 0
The Swans arrived at Roker Park off the back of wins over Carlisle United and York City, but were no match for their top-flight opponents on this occasion.
1952 – Swansea 0 Newcastle 1
Following a pair of 3-0 victories over Reading and Rotherham United, the Swans were narrowly beaten by the Cup holders at the Vetch thanks to Bobby Mitchell’s strike.
1955 – Swansea 2 Sunderland 2 (Replay: Sunderland 1 Swansea 0)
Despite playing out a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Vetch four days earlier, a single goal at Roker Park was enough to see off Swansea in a replay.
1961 – Burnley 4 Swansea 0
The Swans were always going to be in for a tough game against the reigning First Division champions, who eased through as Ray Pointer and Jimmy Robson scored a brace each.
1964 – Stoke City 2 Swansea 2 (Replay: Swansea 2 Stoke City 0)
Following a 2-2 draw at the Victoria Ground, goals from Jimmy McLaughlin and Keith Todd saw Swansea topple First Division opponents in the replay at the Vetch three days later. They beat Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield in the quarter-finals before falling to Preston by the same margin at Villa Park in the semi-finals in front of a crowd of 63,000.
1965 – Peterborough 0 Swansea 0 (Replay: Swansea 0 Peterborough 2)
There was no joy for the Swans the following year as, despite holding out for a goalless draw at London Road three days previously, they were sent packing at the Vetch.
1980 – West Ham United 2 Swansea 0
Despite overcoming Crystal Palace and Reading, the Swans’ dream ended at Upton Park as David Cross and Paul Goddard were on target for the Hammers, who went on to lift the cup that year.
2004 – Tranmere Rovers 2 Swansea 1
After beating Macclesfield Town and Preston North End, the Swans took an early lead at Prenton Park through Andy Robinson. However, Ryan Taylor equalised from the penalty spot soon afterwards, and Iain Hume’s second-half strike condemned Brian Flynn’s men to defeat.
2009 – Fulham 2 Swansea 1
After holding on for an impressive 1-1 draw at the Liberty 10 days earlier, Jason Scotland put the Swans in front against Fulham at Craven Cottage. But the Premier League side eventually prevailed thanks to two late goals in the space of four minutes from Clint Dempsey and Bobby Zamora.
2014 – Everton 3 Swansea 1
Victories over Manchester United and Birmingham City set up an all-Premier League clash at Goodison Park. The Swans responded well to falling behind early on with Jonathan de Guzman cancelling out Lacina Traore’s goal. However, second-half strikes from Steven Naismith and Leighton Baines saw the Toffees through.
2018 – Sheffield Wednesday 0 Swansea 0 (Replay: Swansea 2 Wednesday 0)
Goals from Jordan Ayew and Nathan Dyer saw the Swansea through in a replay after a goal-less draw at Hillsborough. They had previously beaten Wolves 2-1 after a replay and then hammered Notts County 8-1 at The Liberty Stadium.