Kyle Bartley is no stranger to the build up to a big game, having spent over a season on loan at Rangers, before their financial meltdown. He endeared himself to fans of the Glasgow giants with a full-blooded flying tackle on their nemesis Scott Brown, and performed admirably both in defence and midfield. Yet this week has taken the hype to a different level, at least from his personal point of view.
With first choice centre-back Chico Flores ruled out of the Capital One Cup final through injury, the fight to replace him has seemingly come down to a two man contest between Bartley and Garry Monk. If sentiment is at all entering Michael Laudrup's head, then Monk should get the nod. He started out with the club on the lowest rung of the Football League ladder, and has been an enduring presence on the rise to the top. However, Bartley is undoubtedly the better footballer, schooled by Arsenal, one who could become a regular in the starting lineup with the correct nurturing.
Both men were given the chance to impress at Anfield last Sunday, as Ashley Williams was given a rest. If that was an audition, then the answer to both would be a resounding 'no'. For 90 minutes they were run ragged by the resurgent Liverpool front line, with neither looking fit to lace the boots of Chico and Williams. However, Sunday's challenge, although potentially tricky, will not include the dazzling talents of Luis Suarez. Much will come down to who impressed the most during the Dubai training camp, but in terms of their footballing attributes, there should only be one winner.
Bartley has the physical presence to face up to James Hanson, and the pace over the ground to be able to contain Nakhi Wells. And that is why he should be given the nod to walk out at Wembley.