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Croft and Baines - the rematch

25 February 2013

Duel to be repeated at Goodison Park

Lee Croft is relishing another battle with Leighton Baines in tomorrow's FA Cup with Budweiser, fifth-round replay at Everton.

The duel between Latics' winger and the Everton left back was one of the key match ups in the 2-2 draw at Boundary Park a week last Saturday.

Croft (pictured) proved a handful for Baines who had little opportunity to attack as he had to keep a watch on the Latics man.

He said: "I enjoyed playing against Leighton Baines as you always want to pit your wits against the best players.

"And I am sure he is one of the best, if not the best, left backs in the Premier League.

"I have played against Ashley Cole but, at this moment in time, Leighton Baines is possibly the best left back, especially attacking wise, creating and scoring goals in the Premier League.

"I am under no illusion that it will be tough, but it is a test I am looking forward to."

Croft added Caretaker Manager Tony Philliskirk had warned beforehand it was imperative to stop the Everton threat from down the left.

"A lot of team have struggled in the Premier League to contain Everton down the left. It was important for us to do that and I thought we nullified them on that side," he explained.

Croft believes it will be even more difficult tomorrow given Everton have home advantage.

He said: "The one thing in our favour is that nobody expects us to win so we have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

"We have had a good run in the league, where we have won three games in the bounce, and we are confident and can go out and enjoy tomorrow night."

Croft says Latics will have to beware of a backlash from Everton who lost 2-1 to an injury-time goal at Norwich on Saturday. The Toffees have not won in their last four games, though Croft does not see that as an advantage.

He explained: "Everton threw away the league against Norwich in the dying minutes. I am sure they will be angry about that and keen to put that right against us.

"We have to make sure we aren't on the end of a backlash and hopefully they won't be happy again tomorrow."

Croft describes it as a magnificent achievement for Latics to be in the draw for the quarter finals as they are the lowest-ranked side left in the competition.

He is hoping Latics reach the last eight which would replicate 2005/06 when he helped Manchester City reach the last eight.

Croft played in three of the rounds including the home quarter-final defeat which was inflicted by West Ham.

He also reached the fifth round while at Norwich City, but says Latics' achievement probably tops the lot given they are in the third tier of English football.

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