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Swansea City's Kyle Bartley set for surprise start against old club Arsenal in the FA Cup

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: January 05, 2013

Kyle Bartley

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ARSENAL old boy Kyle Bartley could be the surprise name in the Swansea City side when they take on the Gunners in the FA Cup third round tomorrow.

Bartley has made only one Swansea appearance since switching from Arsenal in a £1 million deal back in August.

Now the 21-year-old centre-back is in line to start in central defence against his former club as Michael Laudrup shuffles his pack ahead of next Wednesday's Capital One Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea.

Laudrup is not expected to make wholesale changes as Swansea look for a second win in just over a month over Arsene Wenger's men.

But with one of the biggest games in Swansea's history to come next week — not to mention an awkward Premier League trip to Everton in seven days' time — the Dane will tinker with his side.

And it is understood Bartley could partner Chico Flores in the centre of Swansea's defence with Ashley Williams in line for a rare rest.

The 21-year-old's solitary Swansea game to date was against Barnsley in the League Cup on August 28.

He picked up a thigh injury in training not long after that which sidelined him for three months, and has only made the bench since returning to fitness.

Long-term absentee Neil Taylor aside, Swansea have no serious injury concerns ahead of the Arsenal test.

But Laudrup has indicated that he will rotate his squad as their hectic run of fixtures continues.

"We have just come through Christmas and now, after only a couple of days without playing, we go into a very interesting, very difficult week," said the Swansea manager.

"We have three games in six days in three different competitions.

"For me it's not a question of changing for the sake of changing players, but I try to look at what's coming up.

"I don't know how many changes we will make to the side which started against Aston Villa, but I do know that we will have a competitive team.

"That has to be the case when you are playing against a side like Arsenal.

"I expect them to play their strongest side and, even if we played our strongest side as well, they would start as the favourites."

The Chelsea trip is regarded as the bigger of the two forthcoming knockout games inside the Liberty because in the League Cup Swansea are within touching distance of a first ever major Wembley final.

But Laudrup is a big fan of both competitions and, with Swansea looking good to stay clear of a relegation battle this season, he is not opposed to the idea of two cup runs in the same campaign.

"Obviously Arsenal are the favourites," he added, "but for me the important thing is that we are competitive and we have the possibility to win.

"Maybe the game next Wednesday is more important, but that's not the point. The point is that whatever team we put out tomorrow, we will do our best to win.

"If that is enough to beat Arsenal's strongest team, I don't know."

Tickets for tomorrow's game are still available and will be on sale until kick-off time tomorrow.

Tickets are also on general sale for the trips to Chelsea and Everton.

Birmingham boss Lee Clark has been forced to deny rumours that Leroy Lita's loan spell with the Blues earlier this season was cut short because the pair fell out.

The Swansea striker joined the Championship club on a three-month loan but returned to the Liberty because of an injury, the two clubs indicated at the time.

"Leroy came to Birmingham City because of Lee Clark," said Clark. "Leroy had seven or eight options. He came to us. We go back a long way.

"I haven't had any bust-up with Leroy. The decision was made, he went back to Swansea and he did terrifically well and I have spoken to him since he has been back there."

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