BRIGHTON'S Irish star Gary Dicker believes that the big Premier League clubs are making a mistake by not treating the FA Cup with respect.
Dicker and his Brighton team-mates spent the weekend on a high after the Seagulls beat Newcastle United 2-0, Newcastle the only Premier League side to get knocked out by a club from a lower division.
Dubliner Dicker and his club have form when it comes to giant-killing -- last season they beat Sunderland in the League Cup and also dumped Newcastle out of the FA Cup, and while injury forced the former UCD man to miss big games against Liverpool last term, he was at the heart of their midfield for Saturday's game which puts more pressure on Toon boss Alan Pardew.
Brighton will face Premier League opposition again as their reward for the win over Newcastle was a fourth round tie with either Arsenal or Swansea City, and while promotion to the Premier League is still the big aim for boss Gus Poyet and his team, Dicker says that the Seagulls' players enjoy days like last Saturday.
"The FA Cup means an awful lot to us as players and as a club. It's a stage for you as a player and a chance to get noticed, and I think the Premier League clubs don't think that way," Dicker told the Evening Herald.
"A club like Newcastle haven't won the FA Cup -- or any trophy for that matter -- in a long time and maybe they should have taken the game, and us, a bit more seriously on Saturday.
"I think a club like that, which has so many foreign players in the team, don't realise how much the FA Cup can mean to the fans. Our club's not like that -- even though we have a foreign manager, Gus Poyet won the FA Cup as a player, it means a lot to him and he would love to go on and win it as a manager too.
"When you're in the Championship and you play a Premier League club, all you can do is try to go out and beat them, and we did that comfortably on Saturday," added Dicker.
"Our fans really enjoy the FA Cup and the players do too. It's a great opportunity to play against some of the top teams in the Premier League. Newcastle are struggling a bit in their league this season but it's still good to test yourself against teams from a higher league.
"I know people will say that Newcastle had a weakened side out and rested a lot of players, but it's still Newcastle, they're still a Premier League side and we did our job against them," added Dicker, one of 14 Brighton players out of contract at the end of this season but who is eager to stay on.
"I love the FA Cup. We had a great run in it last season. We knocked out Newcastle and got to play Liverpool. The year before that we got to the fifth round before we lost to Stoke, and this year we've been good.
"The league is still the main aim and this club wants to get back into the Premier League -- Brighton are a massive club, we had nearly 22,000 in for our match on Saturday. That's brilliant support to get."
The ex-UCD player is now in his fourth season with Brighton but this season has not been easy for the former U21 cap due to injury, so Saturday was his first start since October. However, Dicker was pleased with his contribution against Newcastle and hopes to feature in the second half of the season as Brighton -- currently ninth in the table -- try to force their way into the frame for promotion.
Now 26, he knows he's running out of time to re-launch an international career that was halted after a run of U21 caps in 2006. Dicker has not given up hope but, like many Irish players who are first-team regulars in the Championship, he was frustrated to see someone like the untested Conor Clifford get a call-up to recent squads.
"The biggest disappointment is when you're playing week in week out and then lads who aren't getting first team football get the call," he says. "I'm good mates with Stephen Quinn at Hull and it's the same for Stephen. All you can do is keep trying."