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Johnson Expects Tough Encounter

4 December 2014

Manager Lee Johnson has set his sights on the third round of the FA Cup but admits Saturday's second round clash with Doncaster Rovers will be a tough encounter.

Former boss Paul Dickov returns to SportsDirect.com Park for the first time since his departure in February 2013 and Johnson believes the recent meeting between the pair will have no impact on Saturday's game.

Latics recorded their first win of the season against Rovers in August but the manager is only concentrating on his own side.

He said: "They have got some excellent players such as Wellens, Coppinger, Bennett and they are on a good run. We are under no illusions that it is going to be a tough game but a good one. There is a bit of a story behind it, especially with Paul Dickov coming back to the club for the first time and he did well for the club while he was here.

"We have got a few selection issues with James Wilson out of the game with five bookings. People are ready to come in and Timmy can drop back in there and George is fit and ready to go. Jabo is back hopefully and we make our group stronger again. We may change the shape or we may keep it the same, I'm not too sure yet, but we will see from the personnel."

Athletic have enjoyed relative success in the FA Cup over previous seasons, reaching the third round of the competition in the the last three years. 

"It would be fantastic to draw a big team in the third round but we have this tough tie to get past first. We have no right to expect the third round but we are in good form and good spirits," added Johnson.

"Everyone wants to get into the draw because it still has that real romance I believe and it is so important for clubs like us. Not only does it have financial benefits but it gives us the chance to pit our wits against some quality teams from the division above or higher."

The 33-year-old believes there is an air of positivity around the club at the moment and praised the club and the supporters for buying into his philosophy. 

"It just shows how far we have come because through hard work you can achieve anything. Not only from the staff and the players but also the media department and the newspapers and the fans themselves. We have all rallied together and it has been nice. 

"Results on the pitch are going to determine a certain element of the following but we have got a core that has been with us through thick and thin and we are now adding to that."

Johnson continued: "We are very appreciative of everyone who went to Rochdale and all the away games this season have been superb atmospheres so we need to continue with our good atmospheres at home so let's hope for the same on Saturday.

"The fans have been superb so far. We have a nice vibe going on at the moment. I know it's cold, I know that you work probably and you want to go Christmas shopping but try and do it on Sunday because we need everyone Saturday and I'm sure everyone would love a glamour tie in the third round."

Watch the full interview on Latics Player.

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