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Nedum relishes the derby test

Nedum Onuoha

Nedum Onuoha

Nedum Onuoha has never played at Wembley, but each passing cup-tie brings that mouthwatering prospect a little closer for the England Under-21 defender and lifelong Blues fan.

Nedum marked his call-up at Scunthorpe on Sunday by firing his first FA Cup goal - and City's important second - in a battling 4-2 victory that took Roberto Maancini's men into the last 16.

But the game that has captured Onuoha's imagination is the Carling Cup semi-final derby second leg at Old Trafford on Wednesday with City potentially just 90 minutes from reaching the final.

Nedum said: "It's probably as big a game as we've played in, an absolutely massive game and one that won't be forgotten for a long time. We need to make sure that at the end it's in our favour.

"It's the first time in a long time there's been so much pressure on United to beat us. But if you start thinking of defending at Old Trafford, it usually leads to bad things happening.

"We have to attack. If we score the first goal then it puts a lot more pressure on them. And if the game gets stretched later on, there are players on our side who will relish it.

"I was at the play-off final when we beat Gillingham but I've never actually played at Wembley, never come close. But we need to make sure we get through that semi-final hurdle."

Nedum, 23, was sidelined by injury when new manager Mancini arrived, but added: "You could see the way that the mentality changed in a short time, and there was even greater expectancy.

"It was good to be able to watch things develop and know the level you needed to be at if you want to be in the side. It's a challenge, but if it's too easy you probably lower your standards."

His strike just before half time at Glanford Park came courtesy of a cute pass from Stephen Ireland - the provider when he scored his UEFA Cup goal in Copenhagen 11 months ago.

Nedum, who was raiding from right-back, smiled: "I've played alongside Stevie for years, so I knew when to expect the ball. I usually score once a season, so I guess that's probably it!

"Perhaps in the past we'd have faced an upset. I was on the bench at Oldham and it hit me quite hard, but even though Scunthorpe arre a good side I was never really worried eveen at 1-1."

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Roberto Mancini clearly has the hang of this cup-tie lark. At this rate, success-starved Blues fans are going to have to start thinking about making more than one trip to Wembley.