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Michael Dawson steps into unchartered territory against Arsenal on Wednesday night.

Michael Dawson steps into unchartered territory against Arsenal on Wednesday night.The Carling Cup semi-final, first leg against our rivals at the Lane represents the first time our ever-reliable central defender has been on the semi-final stage in his career.

Now 23 and with over 150 senior appearances to his name at Spurs and Nottingham Forest, the furthest Michael has progressed in cup competition is the fourth round of both FA and League Cups at Forest.

That all changes in one of the biggest matches in the recent history of the Club when the Gunners arrive in N17 for an 8pm kick-off on Wednesday night.

“I've never been in a semi-final of a cup and it's a great time for the club,” said Michael. “We know we now have to go one step further and make sure we get to the final. It's Arsenal, a massive game for everyone involved.”

It’s the second time we’ve faced Arsenal this season and Michael admitted the 3-0 defeat on our first visit to the Emirates in December still hurts.

“To lose any game the way we did would be disappointing but to lose to our rivals like that was hard to take,” he stated. “It hurt the lads.

“I actually thought we were holding our own but then we gave a bad goal away and the game went away from us.

“We understand what it means to the fans but, believe me, it means as much to the players when we walk across that white line. We give it our all in every game and we certainly will again on Wednesday night.

“We’ve had to take that defeat on the chin and now we have the chance to put it right.”

Meanwhile, ‘Daws’ had the chance to reflect on Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Fulham when he was penalised for handball after Brian McBride's shot struck him on the top of the shoulder. Vincenzo Montella slotted home the spot kick with just seven minutes remaining but we managed to equalise through Pascal Chimbonda three minutes from time.

“I had to lean into it to get near the ball but if you look at where my hands are, they aren't out wide, they are by my side and I had no intention of sticking my arm out and trying to handball it, I tried to get the block in and I was disappointed," reflected Michael.

“Luckily for myself and the team we managed to get back into it.

“I was absolutely gutted when the referee pointed to the spot after all the work we'd done and you would certainly take the draw after going 1-0 down with a few minutes left.

“It's a tough place to go but I felt we fought well. They have two big guys up front so you are always in an aerial challenge, it's physical and you know you've been in a game when you come off the pitch there.”