ANDY RITCHIE is backing Frank Sinclair to produce a big performance on his return to Chelsea on Saturday.
Town’s 36-year-old right-back was an FA Cup winner with the Londoners in 1997 and a beaten finalist three years before that.
Now the former Jamaican international is aiming to help Andy Ritchie’s side topple the Blues in what undoubtedly would be the biggest shock of the fifth round.
Sinclair came through the Chelsea youth system and spent eight seasons as a first teamer, totting up 218 appearances, 18 of them in the FA Cup.
He later served Leicester and Burnley, and has just passed the first anniversary of his arrival at Town, making his 36th appearance at Carlisle on Tuesday.
“Frank’s a great professional,” said Ritchie, who handed Sinclair a one-year contract during the close-season after his initial loan stint ended.
“He has looked after himself really well over the years, he still has a tremendous physique and he’s lost little of his pace.
“He uses his experience very well, and you can see some opposing players almost wither away when faced by him.
“His clever positional sense means he sometimes doesn’t need to make a challenge to win the ball, and he competes really well in the air.
“You could see by Frank’s reaction as the draw was made how much it means to him to be going back to play at Chelsea, and I’m sure he’ll do himself proud.”
Town today began detailed tactical preparations for the meeting with Avram Grant’s quadruple chasers, who will be in Champions League action against Olympiakos in Greece on Tuesday.
Yesterday was spent with players having massages and treatment on any niggles picked up during the 2-1 defeat at Carlisle.
Ritchie is monitoring the progress of captain Jon Worthington (hamstring) and nine-goal top scorer Luke Beckett (back) as they bid to be fit for Saturday.
Teenager James Berrett and veteran Andy Booth stepped in at Carlisle, where Town suffered a first defeat in six games.
Premiership referee Mark Clattenburg will be the man in the middle at Stamford Bridge. He was in charge when the Blues lost 2-0 at Aston Villa in September.
Clattenburg, from Tyne and Wear, last took charge of a Town match when Blackpool won 2-0 at the Galpharm last March.
FEELING THE BLUES former Chelsea man Frank Sinclair has a massive role to play for Town in Saturday’s FA Cup clash at Stamford Bridge