Robbo's seeking Southampton scalp to delight Pompey fans

The Twitter instructions were loud and clear. Not that Gary Roberts needed reminding.

Wednesday, 14th March 2018, 4:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th March 2018, 4:05 pm
Gary Roberts celebrates Pompey's promotion from League Two at Notts County. Picture: Joe Pepler

Wigan, the remarkable FA Cup conquerors of Manchester City, now have a fresh target in their sights – Southampton.

And the identity of Sunday’s quarter-final opposition has created added spice for the ex-Pompey midfielder.

Roberts told The News: ‘I received tons and tons of tweets from Pompey fans after the draw came out, asking me to beat Southampton.

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Gary Roberts celebrates Pompey's promotion from League Two at Notts County. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘First and foremost, it will be absolutely fantastic for Wigan. We are in touching distance of a Wembley semi-final and will give it a right go.

‘But if I can do Pompey fans a bit of a favour so they’ll be happy that night with a Wigan win then I’ll try!’

Roberts, of course, understands the south-coast rivalry following a two-year Fratton Park stay.

Among Paul Cook’s first signings in the summer of 2015, the popular midfielder made 80 appearances and scored 20 goals for the Blues.

Gary Roberts celebrates Pompey's promotion from League Two at Notts County. Picture: Joe Pepler

He was second-top scorer with 10 goals in the team which claimed the League Two title so memorably in May.

However, the arrival of Kenny Jackett signified the end of Roberts’ Pompey days and he departed by mutual consent in August.

Yet he was swiftly reunited with Cook at Wigan, where he has featured in both their League One title push and FA Cup run.

‘That rivalry was the first thing I found out about when joining Pompey,’ said Roberts.

‘I was looking at houses and a fella said to me “You don’t want to be living in an SO postcode” and explained a name supporters call them.

‘That was three or four days in – that was it, I knew straightaway and lived in Bedhampton!

‘There is hatred. I don’t think people know how bad it is until you play for the club. The fans hate them, they do, they literally hate them.

‘I would have loved to have been involved in a game between the two.

‘You see the David Norris goal now and again, the scenes when he scores are unbelievable.

‘I follow Chuck on Twitter, I played with him at Ipswich, and he has put that goal up a few times and retweeted it. That is some goal by the way, a great goal.

‘And I remember the title victory parade on Southsea Common with Gaz Evans singing his little song.

‘I don’t think Gaz will remember much of that, but it got the fans going as well!

‘It will be good to get both Pompey and Southampton in the same league again, which could happen in the near future if Pompey can pick up a little bit.

‘Southampton are in a bit of bother at the minute.’

Roberts, who also celebrates his 34th birthday on Sunday, has so far featured in every round of Wigan’s FA Cup run.

It already includes victories over Premier League opposition in the form of Bournemouth, West Ham and Manchester City – all at the DW Stadium.

Now struggling Southampton stand in the way of a Wembley semi-final date.

Roberts added: ‘Obviously, they are not as good as Manchester City, but they are an established Premier League team.

‘Even though they are having a little bit of a hard time at the minute, their squad should beat Wigan – there’s no doubt about it.

‘The pressure will be on them, they should come to Wigan and win – and we are delighted to be where we are.

‘We are a League One club in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup,

‘But, as you know, our manager won’t lie down, he’ll make it as hard as possible for them.

‘I don’t think the manager wanted all these games, but we are in deep now, we are in, one game away from Wembley.

‘And for a League One team to get to Wembley would be massive, you don’t see the very often.’