Pompey stars Kanu and Utaka pledge to make up for 6-0 defeat at Eastlands against Chelsea


Nigerian strikers Kanu and John Utaka have promised to lift the cloud of gloom over Portsmouth after Sunday's 6-0 thrashing at Manchester City by giving mighty Chelsea a Carling Cup battle at Fratton Park.  

Manager Harry Redknapp, furious over the 'sloppy' display at Eastlands, is ready to risk another Blue humiliation by resting a raft of first-teamers for the third round clash - even though midfield trio Lassana Diarra, Papa Bouba Diop and Sean Davis are already ruled out with injuries thought to be long-term.  

Chelsea's visit evokes another bad recent Pompey memory - their 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge in the opening game of the season.   

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John Utaka

Middle man: John Utaka (centre) of Portsmouth battles for the ball with Desmarets (left) and Joao Alves (right) of Victoria Guimaraes SC during the UEFA Cup round one first leg

But boss Redknapp's selection crisis gives a chance to Kanu, who has not started for Pompey since his FA Cup winner at Wembley in May, and compatriot Utaka, a major £7million signing last season who has struggled to keep his place in the side.  

Kanu, plagued by knee and thigh injuries this term, managed a full game for the reserves last Tuesday, came on as a substitute in the last few minutes of the UEFA Cup clash with Vitoria Guimaraes two days later and was on the bench again at City.   

Now he is relishing a cup tie return, and said: 'It's been a long time but most important is that I have played games recently and hopefully I can play again against Chelsea.'  

He added: 'It's always difficult getting back after injuries but I've been training twice a day lately and everything is fine. I am ready to go. 

'I will give 100 per cent like every time and I want to get back into the team because I know I have more to offer. It is not yet finished. So believe me, Kanu is coming back.'

The charismatic former Arsenal star was feted by Pompey fans at Wembley but is not the idol he was two years ago after joining on a free transfer from West Brom and answering doubters with 12 goals in his first season.  


Drubbing: the scoreboard tells the story at Eastlands

Utaka, meanwhile, is still trying to prove his own worth but has featured in all games this term - except at Chelsea - mostly as a substitute, a role in which he replaced new £5million signing Younes Kaboul before half-time against City. 

Pompey were already 2-0 down but Utaka's arrival seemed to spark a response, and he recalled: 'We pressed forward in the second half and made more chances than them for a spell.  

'But suddenly they scored their third goal and there was no way back. It all went wrong but we can't have any excuses about playing so many games in a short time because City did too. My honest feeling is that it was just one of those games for us.

'That's why we must move on and do well against Chelsea. We know it hurts the fans to lose like that but it hurts the players just as much and it is our job now to do something to make up for it.'

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