Peterborough United warrior Gaby Zakuani believes his side sent out a warning to the rest of League One with their FA Cup performance against West Brom on Wednesday (February 10).
The 29-year-old central defender was one of many plucky Posh players who caught the eye in the fourth round replay defeat on penalties to the Premier League side, a game that was screened live to 5.6 million viewere on BBC One.
It was the best Posh run in the competition for eight years, but the club focus is now on a late-season charge to promotion, starting with the visit of Bradford City to the ABAX Stadium tomorrow (February 13).
Zakuani said: “That’s the best we’ve probably played live on the television. We showed the nation how good we can be and we also sent a message to the rest of League One.
“We played better football than a Premier League team, but we also got stuck in. They are the ingredients a successful side requires and I definiteley believe we have found the right mix again. When someone as skilful as Martin Samuelsen is happy to get stuck into tackles you know have a side with the right character.
“We have players with a lot of ability and we have players like me with no talent, but who will fight for everything. There wasn’t a lot between us and a Premier League side.
“We should take great confidence from the performance against.
“We might have a few tired legs tomorrow for a tough game against Bradford, but there are also plenty of players who didn’t play who can come in and do the job we need.
“The win at Chesterfield was vital. We didn’t play like we can, but those three points kept us in touch and we are now in a great position to kick on and get back into the Championship.”
Zakuani might struggle to play another 90 minutes so soon after his heroic effort on Wednesday. The DR Congo international was pressed into service against West Brom a month ahead of schedule following an operation on a hamstring injury. It was his first start since the FA cup first round win at Burton on November 7.
“I should have been doing light training with the physio, but instead I was playing 120 minutes against Premier League footballers,” Zakuani added. “I felt good, but it caught up with me towards the end and I was watching the clock during extra time.
“It’s up to the manager to decide if I play tomorrow, but I will make myself available.
“It would be great if many of the fans who supported us so well against West Brom came back for the league games. That sort of atmosphere only helps us.”
Right-back Michael Smith and central defender Ricardo Santos are available tomorrow after missing the FA Cup tie through suspension. New striker Tom Nichols and attacking midfielder Adil Nabi were ineligible to face ‘The Baggies’, but are back in contention tomorrow.