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Friday 9 December 2016

Dawson aiming to show iron will

Scunthorpe’s Irish captain Stephen Dawson is hoping Chelsea suffer the same FA Cup fate that befell them against Bradford City last season
Scunthorpe’s Irish captain Stephen Dawson is hoping Chelsea suffer the same FA Cup fate that befell them against Bradford City last season

The large travelling party of family and friends from Scunthorpe United's Irish contingent may enjoy some sight-seeing in London this weekend.

But for the players involved, the club's FA Cup game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday is anything but a day out.

"I'm not in London for a weekend away so I can wave to the crowd and see the family. I am a professional and here to do a job. Once you cross the white line you treat it like a game of football, no matter who you are up against, even if they are the best players in the world," says Stephen Dawson, a key man in the Scunthorpe midfield.

"You want to go and enjoy yourself in the game, but you also don't want to let yourself down. Me and Paddy Madden, the two Dubs in the team, have family and friends coming over from Ireland for the game as it's Chelsea away, a game everyone wants to see. So I feel a bit of pressure as I want us to do well."

This hasn't been an easy season for the side, managed by ex-Manchester United man Mark Robins. And it hasn't been plain sailing for their club captain Dawson, who got injured just three games into the new campaign and was out for four months. But Coolock lad Dawson, 30, is back fit and back in the United side with his midfield bite still intact, as he laughs when reminded that he picked up two yellow cards in his first two games back for the side over Christmas.

Rejuvenated

Those tackles may be needed in midfield to stop a rejuvenated Chelsea from rolling over The Iron, though the Blues have form in terms of Cup games in January: 12 months ago, a League One side (Bradford) containing a Dubliner (Mark Yeates) came to Stamford Bridge and won.

"Yeah, it can happen, and we hope it happens two years on the spin. We have talked a bit about last year, Bradford winning away to Chelsea.

"What we have to do is make it hard for Chelsea. If we cause them problems and they don't get an early goal, their fans might get on their players' backs," added Dawson.

Having spent his career in the lower leagues, with sides like Mansfield, Bury, Orient, Barnsley and Rochdale, his only chance to rub shoulders with the big names is in these cup ties.

"I won't get too hung up on the quality of their squad, I will go out there to play as well as I can, no matter who I am up against. Okay, I know it's a big ask to go up against the likes of Fabregas or Matic or Mikel, but that's why you are in the game, for moments like this. They are all world-class players but maybe they are not used to the rough and tumble of League One," he says.

"In any game as a midfielder, you try and win your own battle, no matter who you're up against and hope that the other players follow suit. That's hard to do against a side like Chelsea, and they do seem to have come through whatever their problems were under Mourinho. But it's a great opportunity for me, for the team, for the club, to go and showcase ourselves away to the champions of England."

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