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Dave Kemp is always up for the FA Cup

Sport | Published:

The FA Cup brings back special memories for Albion assistant boss Dave Kemp.

The Londoner was first team coach at Wimbledon in 1988 when the Crazy Gang famously shocked Liverpool in the final.

He was also Tony Pulis's assistant in 2011 when Stoke lost 1-0 to Manchester City in the final.

Now 62-years-old, Kemp was a forward in the 1970s when the FA Cup meant a lot more than it does today.

"The FA Cup third round, apart from the final, was probably the biggest day of the year," said Kemp.

"You could virtually guarantee most of the teams playing that day would have their biggest crowd of the season. Whether it be Arsenal or Darlington, the third round of the FA Cup was the biggest day.

"Now, it's dipped. The FA Cup's changed. It gets bigger the closer it gets to the final like other cup competitions, like the League Cup. For someone of my era, that's strange."

Kemp reckons the best way to re-kindle the competition would be to hand a Champions League place to the winners instead of the team that finishes fourth in the Premier League.

At the moment the Cup is rife with weakened teams, and Kemp is unhappy at the Premier League for devaluing the Cup by organising a midweek match so soon after the third round.

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Albion are likely to name an unusual starting XI tomorrow.

"It might be forced on us to make changes because we've got to travel to Chelsea and then Southampton, and the priority is to stay in the Premier League," said Kemp.

"But it's not because we're disrespecting the FA Cup, it's forced on you by the schedule.

"Let's be honest, no one wants to be out of the Premier League.

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"You've only got to look at Portsmouth, who are now in what I used to call the Fourth Division. They've won the league twice and won the FA Cup eight years ago."

Bristol City are third-bottom in the Championship and come to The Hawthorns without a win in five games. But Kemp's been a part of one of the all-time greatest FA Cup shocks and he's not taking anything for granted

"I've seen Bristol City this season, they're not a horrendous team," he said.

"They're in the bottom three but it's the bounce of the ball sometimes, a bit of luck, momentum, confidence.

"If they bring their best game, as they have done a few times this season when they've won games, well, then it will be hard.

"We've got to be on our game. If we drop a notch and they play to their level, we're in trouble."

After playing 45 minutes for the under-21s this week, goalkeeper Ben Foster is in line to make his first appearance for the Baggies since last March.

Head coach Pulis wants to play as many strikers as possible in order to win the tie without a replay. Adil Nabi's international clearance has come through after his loan spell in India, so he's available for selection.

But the 21-year-old forward has picked up a knock that could rule him out.

After three games out, both James McClean and Salomon Rondon are available. Jonas Olsson and Victor Anichebe will be assessed on their hamstring injuries and James Chester is expected to play a part.

It could be an opportunity for some fringe players to show Pulis, and other teams, what they can do.

"As a footballer, whether the window's open or shut, every time you play it's show time," said Kemp.

"You might be out of the team for however long a period it is, but when you're given that shirt you've got to be ready to go and put on your best performance."

They may change the team but Pulis and Kemp both take the FA Cup seriously and, after last year's heartbreaking defeat to Villa in the quarter-finals, there's a desire to reach the latter stages once more.

"If you turn up with a good performance and get lucky with the draw then yes, you can win it," said Kemp.

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