Bolton boy Flitcroft will ignore home-town ties

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DAVID FLITCROFT is putting sentiment firmly to one side ahead of this afternoon’s game with home-town club Bolton.

The Reds manager supported Wanderers as a boy and still lives in the town but his mind is strictly on taking care of Barnsley business in the first of three big Roses tests over the next seven days, which culminate in Saturday’s glamorous FA Cup quarter-final assignment at Manchester City.

The Reds’ stunning sequence since Flitcroft was handed the permanent reins at Oakwell ended abruptly in last weekend’s 5-3 loss at Bristol City, which saw them trail 5-1 before two late consolation strikes.

And the 39-year-old – whose side also visit Burnley on Tuesday – is eager for a response at the first time of asking today.

On the clash with Bolton, Flitcroft said: “I live in Bolton and know everything about what they (the fans) want and I was a fan as a youngster.

“They did have massive aspirations of getting straight back up at the first opportunity this season, as Wolves and Blackburn did.

“What they probably did when they got relegated was underestimate how good, competitive and physical this division was. Maybe after relegation, the town also lost its fight a little bit.

“It’s been a slow turnaround. But I have seen with Dougie (Freedman), with the systems he is trying to implement, that he is getting that success now.”

And specifically on the fixture’s personal significance, he added: “My two boys have been getting stick because they are Barnsley and Dave Flitcroft fans. They are part of what we are trying to do here and have been ripped at school this week!

“But as the manager, you simply have got to take the emotion out of it.

“I am quite an emotional guy, really, but when it comes to football, you have to get your emotions right and crack on.”

Flitcroft knows plenty about one Bolton player in particular in the shape of loan defender Craig Dawson, who has made his presence felt at both ends of the pitch since arriving from West Bromwich, netting three goals in five games thus far.

Flitcroft, who worked with Dawson at Rochdale, where he first made his name, said: “Daws is a player we tried recruiting here several times when Keith (Hill) was here as manager and the owner and board would have backed us.

“He is someone we know all about here with his dangerous runs and he is going to be a massive threat.

“I think in the second season we had him at Rochdale, he scored 12 goals for a centre-half, which is incredible.”