SHEFFIELD United ace Neill Collins has leapt to the defence of the FA Cup.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes Champions League qualification is far more important to the Gunners than either of the two domestic cup competitions; the FA Cup or Capital One Cup.
Several clubs, including Arsenal, who have gone seven years without silverware, field weakened sides in early rounds.
But Collins, recalled to the Blades starting line-up in Monday’s win over Portsmouth, insists the competition remains a prestigious one.
He told The Star: “The FA Cup is a fantastic competition and all the big teams will want to win it this year. It was a great final between Chelsea and Liverpool so people who say it has been devalued are barking up the wrong tree.”
United travel to League Two outfit Bristol Rovers on Saturday seeking a fourth win on the bounce. After the trip to the Memorial Ground, Danny Wilson’s men, who have yet to taste defeat in League One, head to Swindon Town and MK Dons bidding to tighten their grip on the automatic positions.
“It will be tough at Bristol,” acknowledged Collins. “They will be really up for it so we need to be as well. It is important to go there, put in a good performance and keep our run going and confidence high. Whenever you cross that white line, you want to win and Saturday will be no different.”
Collins, a key member of United’s dressing room, is under no illusions how tricky the next three away days will be.
The Scottish centre-back said: “They are all going to be hard tests. If we finish ahead of Swindon and MK Dons, we know we are going to be in the top two of three.
Our results have been good away from home; teams have to come at us more. These games will be a really good yardstick of how far we have come. As players, these are the games you relish.”