Gabbs ready for Matt

Danny Gabbidon could be reunited with Matthew Etherington on Wednesday night and is hoping to get the better of the Stoke City winger.

Gabbidon is the last surviving member at the Boleyn Ground of the 16-man squad that took part in the 2006 FA Cup final in Cardiff. He and Etherington were team-mates that day against Liverpool but the Welsh defender knows he will need to come out on top this time if he wants the chance of savouring another cup showpiece.

"Matt has always done well, including when he was here," said Gabbidon. "I enjoyed playing with him especially my first season when we did well, got to the FA Cup final and qualified for Europe.

"He is consistent. I was a little bit sad to see him go as left-footed wingers are a rare commodity but the move to Stoke has been good for him."

Etherington left for the Britannia Stadium in January 2009 and has not looked back, kick-starting his career and becoming one of Stoke's most influential players.

Gabbidon added: "He has shown what a good player he is for them as well. There has been talk of him getting a chance in the England squad which just shows what kind of form he has been in. He has possibly taken his game up another level at Stoke and sometimes a new start can be like that.

"He is a good player and we will have to be careful. I am sure he will get a good reception coming back."

While the Boleyn faithful may be ready to show their appreciation before kick-off, Gabbidon said the Hammers would be thinking only about coming out on top during the 90 minutes. Although familiarity can help when taking on an opponent, he warned that it can work both ways.

"It makes it easier when you know the player you are coming up against. But, that said, he will know what we are capable of as well and try to take advantage. He is a tricky player but we will have to be ready for all of their players. He has got good skill and is a good crosser."

Should the Hammers progress to the last eight, Gabbidon would be forgiven for dreaming another final date.

"It would be nice to have another cup run and give the fans something to cheer about. The league form has been OK for the last few games. Obviously it was a disappointing result on Saturday but if we can get a good result on Wednesday it will cheer the fans up and cheer us up as well.

"A few big teams have been knocked out of the Carling Cup so you never know what could happen if we were to win. If we can get past Stoke and get a favourable draw, we could have a good chance. A good cup run builds confidence and can kick-start the league form. It would give us the right platform for the Arsenal game on Saturday."