Date: 13th September 2015 at 10:16pm
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Ahead of the huge game against Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup 3rd round, I caught up with two former players to get their thoughts on the match.

Paul Devlin, 43, and Martin Grainger, also 43, both shared their opinions on the upcoming game as well as what they enjoyed when they played against the Villa during their time with the club.

As a right winger, who could also play up front, Devlin had three spells with the club. His first spell with the club came in 1996 when he joined on a permanent deal from Notts County.

During his two years with the cub, Devlin made over 75 appearances for the Blues, scoring an impressive 28 goals.

His second stint with the club was on a loan deal in 2002 where he made 13 appearances, joining from Sheffield United. During this period, the former Blues wide man also scored one goal.

After his loan spell with the club, he made the move back to the Blues where he spent a further year making another 34 appearances and adding three goals to his previous tallies.

Playing at left back, Grainger was one of the mainstays in the Blues line up during his nine year career at St.Andrews.

Throughout his time with the club, Grainger played over 225 times, scoring an impressive 25 goals in the time as well.

During the nine years he played for the Blues, Grainger collected the accolade of Fans Player of the Year in the 1999-2000 season and helped the club reach the 2001 Football League Cup, which unfortunately we lost to Liverpool.

I asked both of the former players a series of questions regarding the Villa game and here are their responses.

When asked what their fondest memory was when they played against Aston Villa, they both gave similar answers.

Devlin said: “My fondest memories of playing against the Villa were the first 2 games after we went up to the premier league when we hammered them 3-0 at home and 2-0 at Villa.

“We had them beat in the tunnel both nights. That Blues team had too much fight for them and they didn’t fancy it!”

Grainger followed on from Devlin`s comment. He said: “The fondest memory of playing against the Villa for me was the atmosphere and the Peter Enckelman mistake.”

Following on from their fondest memories of playing against the Claret and Blue side of the city, I asked the pair what did they most enjoy about playing in the derby.

Grainger, who played in one derby game, said: “What I mostly enjoyed about the game was winning it for the fans! It was a great feeling.”

Right winger Devlin furthered Grainger`s comments about Enckelman when he answered this question.

His response was as follows: “The thing I most enjoyed was the atmosphere in the Villa games, on both occasions the grounds were absolutely rocking, especially at our place!

“I also enjoyed Peter Enckelman`s performances too. The noise the blues fans made was deafening, they make the atmosphere.”

Moving on from their time playing against the Villa, I ask Paul and Martin what advice would they give to the players heading into the game.

Devlin replied: “The advice I would give the current squad for the game on the 22nd would be, give every last thing you have on that pitch.

‘Show no fear, get stuck right into them, enjoy the occasion and most importantly WIN!’

Grainger responded with a more simple answer for the players. He said: “My advice to the players would be not to let the occasion get to you and don`t go getting a silly sending off.”

Heading into the local derby, I asked them which players they thought could impact the game the most.

Former defender, Grainger, hinted at the fact that he didn`t like to pick out individuals from a team and that he thought it was vital for the whole squad to perform well.

He commented: “I don`t like to pick out individuals. I think we just need a team performance to get the job done.”

Devlin, however, pointed out that he hopes Demarai Gray, David Cotterill and Clayton Donaldson all have impressive games.

The versatile former forward said: “Being mainly a wide man in my career I would like to see Cotterill and Demarai Gray do well in the game.

“I’m a big Clayton Donaldson fan too, one of them could be the match winner hopefully.”

Furthermore, when I asked the pair where they think the game could be won or lost, Martin was fairly straightforward once again with his answer. He said: “We just need to be aggressive with our play.

However, Paul believes there is much more to the game than aggressive play.

“I think the game will be won or lost on how we attack them. I think if we just sit back all the time and try and soak up pressure they will eventually score.

“I would like to see us go there and have a right go at them, take the game to them.”

When I asked both of them what they thought makes the game such a special occasion for the fans, both of them said things along the same lines.

Devlin said: “The derby game is special because of the rivalry/ hatred between the two clubs.

“The fact for a lot of time over the last 20-30 years we’ve been in different divisions helps too as it doesn’t happen loads of times like other Derby games.

“The atmosphere the Blues fans generate in those games is unbelievable. If I had a time machine and could go back and play in one game it would be the derby game.”

Finally, the last question I asked the pair was what they thought the score would be. Grainger told me that he thinks the game will be a close one but he hopes the blue side of the city edges it.

The response I received from Devlin was along the same train of thought as well. He said: “I think, hope, pray, wish, we will win the game 1-0.”

I would like to thank Paul and Martin for taking the time to answer my questions regarding the upcoming game.

Blues fans, what do you make of the pair`s answers to the questions that I asked them? Also, in the comment section below, tell us what were your fondest memories of the former Blues duo!

 
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