Our international midfielder is battling his way back from an Achilles injury and will have to watch the biggest game of the season from the stands at Old Trafford.
But his absence could be a blessing in disguise. The 29-year-old has lost four FA Cup semi-finals and suffered the agony of England’s penalty exit at the penultimate hurdle in Euro 96.
Darren’s tale of semi-final woe started back in 1992 when he first caught the eye at Portsmouth — he was outstanding against Liverpool in a draw at Highbury before Pompey lost the replay on penalties.
He was there again a year later when we lost to Arsenal at Wembley and completed a hat-trick in 1995 against Everton.
Euro 96 followed — after he hit the post in ‘golden goal’ extra time — and, most recently, defeat against Newcastle at Old Trafford in 1999.
He admitted: “Perhaps it’s quite good I’m missing out! I’ve lost in four FA Cup semi-finals plus the European Championship so perhaps I’m better off out of it. I’m sure everyone will agree!”
When semi-final day arrives this time Darren will be in the middle of another frustrating stretch of rehabilitation.
He revealed: “I’ve been in plaster just to give it complete rest and on crutches to make sure I didn’t aggravate it. I have to ease my way back in.
“I hope to return before the end of the season. I don’t see why not.
“It’s very hard for me to say how long it will be but my aim is to be back playing soon. It’s just a matter of starting to walk around again. It is frustrating not being able to do anything.”
By Paul Miles
You could forgive Darren Anderton’s team-mates for shedding few tears that he’s not around for Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final.