Football: Gullit promised memorable night out in Blackpool

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The Independent Online
Gary Megson has vowed to give Ruud Gullit's Chelsea team "a night out in Blackpool to remember" in the Coca-Cola Cup.

Gianluca Vialli, Roberto Di Matteo and Frank Leboeuf head for the seaside tonight for a second round, first leg tie that promises to be a real eye- opener for them.

Chelsea's foreign imports, who have helped steer their new side to third in the Premiership, have visited the likes of Highbury and Hillsborough. But they face a different kind of challenge against battling Second Divison opponents roared on by an 11,000 sell-out crowd at run-down Bloomfield Road.

Megson, the Blackpool manager, is clearly determined to make things as uncomfortable as possible for Gullit's stylish side. "We are not overawed by them - they are the ones who are expected to produce the result," he said.

Megson is urging his players to seize the chance to test themselves against a Chelsea team packed with internationals. "My players will not have a better chance to show just what they are capable of," he said. "And we shall give Ruud Gullit and his men a night out in Blackpool to remember."

Blackpool's experienced centre-half David Linighan has been passed fit and faces the unenviable task of attempting to shackle Vialli. Gullit will give fitness tests to Vialli, Leboeuf, Craig Burley, Erland Johnsen and Steve Clarke before finalising his team.

Alan Little, the York City manager, believes his side can pull off another giant-killing act against Everton at Goodison Park. Little's side knocked out Manchester United at the same stage of last season's competition, pulling off a remarkable 3-0 win at Old Trafford and completing a 4-3 aggregate victory.

"We proved against Manchester United that this is not impossible and we have to think we can pull off another surprise," Little said. Everton may be vulnerable after three straight defeats, but Little insisted: "We're not naive enough to underestimate them. They're a good side with quality players."

York's record signing, Adrian Randall, has passed a fitness test on a groin strain and replaces Steve Bushell - the only change from the side which drew 2-2 at Peterborough on Saturday. The Everton manager, Joe Royle, has to decide whether to recall Graham Stuart at the expense of 17-year- old striker Michael Branch, who made his home debut in Saturday's 2-1 defeat at home to Middlesbrough.

The Third Division's bottom club, Hereford, head for the Riverside Stadium to face Middlesbrough. Graham Turner, who pits his team of free transfers against Bryan Robson's multi-million pound outfit, admits his side faces a daunting task - "we know the way they play but containing them is another matter" - but has ordered his players not to let themselves be intimidated.

"The players must not be overawed by the occasion, or the quality of their stars," he said.

The former Wolves midfielder Keith Downing is suspended and a youngster, Mark Hibbard, has been drafted into the Hereford squad. Branco, still awaiting for his first appearance this season, is included in Middlesbrough's squad.

Robson said: "I have warned my players against underestimating Hereford. People are going to expect an avalanche of goals but it does not work like that. Hereford will be determined not to give anything away."

George Graham's first game at Elland Road since succeeding Howard Wilkinson is a tricky first leg tie against Darlington. Graham has managed to secure Mark Hateley for a further month on loan from Queen's Park Rangers and could name the side that went down 2-1 at Coventry on Saturday - his first game in charge. Lee Sharpe missed that game with a calf strain and will return if passed fit, but Graham has made it clear he will not take a gamble on the pounds 4.5m summer signing.

Sheffield Wednesday and Wimbledon are the other Premiership clubs in action. Wednesday tackle Oxford at Hillsborough and Wimbledon face Portsmouth at Selhurst Park.

Joe Kinnear has recalled the transfer-listed Dean Holdsworth to his Wimbledon squad but will be reluctant to change his side after three straight wins.