Experienced winger-turned-defender Mark Kennedy will be urging his Ipswich Town team-mates to defy the odds as the beleaguered npower Championship team prepare to entertain hot favourites Arsenal in the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final.

Between Managers - with Roy Keane dismissed last week and Paul Jewell set to take over after Wednesday evening's Portman Road clash - the Tractor Boys are in a state of limbo as they look to bounce back from Sunday's 7-0 FA Cup thrashing by Arsenal's Premier League rivals Chelsea.

Ten defeats in their last 14 League games led to Keane's departure and, like their FA Cup humbling at Stamford Bridge, suggest that the 19th in the table team have only a slim outside chance of knocking the Gunners out of the Cup.

But Republic of Ireland international Kennedy, who joined Ipswich from Cardiff City in the close season, said: "The Chelsea game is gone, it's over.

"We haven't had the greatest season in the world, but in the Carling Cup we've earned the right to play against Arsenal. We're there by merit, not by luck, and hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves.

"This is a massive game, it's the semi-final of a Cup and an opportunity to get to Wembley and play in a Cup Final - that's a chance which some players never get."

As a former Liverpool, Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers player 34-year-old Kennedy has had the chance to experience many games against top clubs, including a memorable FA Cup tie against Arsenal when - as a teenager with his first club Millwall - he smashed home a glorious victory clincher in a 2-0 success.

Sixteen years on he would love to repeat the feat in the Carling Cup as he looks to help galvanise what is a comparatively young Ipswich playing squad.

"We have a very inexperienced group of players," noted Kennedy," and there are only a few old heads around. So it's up to the senior guys, like me, to try and help the younger players through this period.

"But this (the Carling Cup semi) is the type of game that young players should want to play in, having grown up watching the Arsenals and Manchester Uniteds."

"It's not a fun day out, though. Arsenal are coming to town, it's the semi-final of a Cup and so it's an incredibly serious game of football. There's going to be a full house and we have to be ready - and I'm sure we will be ready."

Ipswich are the only one of the four semi-finalists who have never won the League Cup, while Arsenal have lifted the trophy twice and been runners-up four times.

The Gunners were last in the Final in 2007, when they lost 2-1 to Chelsea. And after going trophy-less since wining the FA Cup in 2005, they are desperate to collect some long-awaited silverware. Manager Arsene Wenger said: "We are two games away from the Final, we want to go there and we will be highly motivated to do that."

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