Swans v Gillingham: The big talking points

25th January
First team

Swansea City look to book their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup when they host Gillingham at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday (3pm).

Here are the big talking points as a former Swan gets set for a memorable return.

Swansea return for Lovell

One can only imagine that Gillingham boss Steve Lovell could barely believe his eyes when the first two balls out of the hat in the fourth-round draw were his hometown club and his current side.

Lovell had been open in his desire to face the Swans after knocking Cardiff out in the third round, but probably never genuinely expected that he would get his wish.

As it is the 58-year-old - the son of another former Swans player in father Alan - who was born and raised in Dunvant and made two league appearances for Swansea during a loan spell in 1987, is readying himself for a journey home.

In the build-up to the game he has shared his memories of being taken to the Vetch Field as a youngster and it promises to be a very special afternoon for him and his family in SA1.

Swansea will be hoping he does not have too much cause for celebration come the end of the 90 minutes, but Lovell will surely get a warm reception back on his old turf.

Big chance for Carter-Vickers

There were plenty of positives for Swansea to take from toppling high-flying Sheffield United last time out, but the undoubted negative was the broken metatarsal suffered by Joe Rodon.

The 21-year-old centre-half has been hugely impressive during his first full season at senior level and has formed a strong partnership with Mike van der Hoorn.

Losing him for at least six weeks is far from ideal, but it helps that Swansea do have a more than capable replacement ready to step up.

Cameron Carter-Vickers has had to be patient since making his loan move from Tottenham at the start of the season, but he has proven a reliable performer whenever he has been out on the field for the Swans.

Of his dozen appearances of the season to date six have been starts, but he looks to be in line for a run in the side.

Manager Graham Potter says it is an opportunity the United States international deserves, he will be absolutely determined to take it.

Cup history for the Swans?

Swansea are enjoying their best sequence of the season to date after extending their unbeaten run to five matches against the Blades.

With two home games ahead in the coming days they will want to make sure they further extend this stretch without suffering defeat.

And, should they get past Gillingham, they can create a small piece of club history by achieving something Swansea have only managed on one previous occasion in their 107-year existence.

Beat the Gills and the Swans will have advanced to the fifth round of the FA Cup for the second-consecutive season in the wake of last term’s journey to the quarter-finals.

The only other time Swansea managed to reach the last-16 in consecutive seasons came in 1964 and 1965, when the brilliant run to the semi-finals was backed up by advancing as far as the fifth round the following campaign.

League matters tend to dominate the focus of many clubs, but keeping the current good run going and matching that rare achievement in Swansea’s history will be more than welcome for Potter’s men.

Handling the double-header

Aside from the absence of Rodon, Wayne Routledge and Martin Olsson, the Swans are also waiting on the fitness of a few other players ahead of Saturday’s game.

Nathan Dyer and Joel Asoro have been ill, while Kyle Naughton has a knee complaint and Tom Carroll and Wilfried Bony have recently returned to training.

Manager Potter also has to consider the Championship fixture against Birmingham, which takes place just over 72 hours after this FA Cup assignment.

The 43-year-old named a very strong line-up for the third-round victory at Aston Villa and has spoken of the need for he and his squad to have the mindset of setting out to win every game they play.

But he will also be mindful of not risking the fitness of his players with that Birmingham game looming, and it will be interesting to see if the likes of Barrie McKay, Jay Fulton and Declan John get a chance to impress having spent time on the bench or outside the matchday squad in recent weeks.