Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu expressed his regret that Hatters supporters won't be able to be at Stamford Bridge for the Emirates FA Cup fourth round tie tomorrow - but he hopes they will be cheering him and the lads on from home with the match screened live on BBC One.
The club's longest-serving player is relishing the opportunity to take on Frank Lampard's Premier League side, but there is that one major element missing for Pelly, who has seen the crowds at Kenilworth Road grow since his debut in the Conference to full houses for every home game in the Championsip.
“The fans have been great for us and we are going to miss them on the weekend,” said the 26-year-old. “They have been here week in, week out for us and the pandemic has put a stop to that, but they are hopefully going to be cheering from their seats at home.”
And asked whether the absence of Chelsea fans could be a leveller, he replied: “Yes and no. There would be a lot of Chelsea fans, but we know Luton fans very well and they travel in their numbers away, their record speaks for itself.
“So in a way it does level the playing field, but obviously if Chelsea had fans and we had fans there as well, it would be a great atmosphere. I think atmosphere creates a good game, but obviously right now we can’t do that, and it’s a shame.”
Pelly is aiming to go one better than the last time the club was on the big FA Cup stage. The midfielder was part of the Town side that lost 3-1 at Newcastle United in the third round in 2017-18, a game watched by 8,000 travelling Town fans.
He believes that having won two promotions since then and seen the departure and return of manager Nathan Jones, the team is in much better shape to spring a surprise on Premier League opposition this time around.
“We've grown as a team and have a lot more better players than we did,” he said. “We've grown as a group, obviously we've got our manager back, and hopefully we'll be much better. This is our second season in the Champ now, and hopefully we can go out and show Chelsea what a good Championship team we are.
“It’s a day to enjoy but we’ve got to make sure we do the best we can. We want to be playing teams like Chelsea every week.
“They are a great team. They’ve been in the Premier League, they’ve won the Premier League so we’ve got to make sure that we do our job. It’s going to be a great day but hopefully we can cause an upset. We know that anything can happen in the FA Cup.”