Hassell is confident of burying memories of last visit

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Bobby Hassell’s last experience of the Etihad Stadium was a particularly unpleasant one for him and his fresh-faced Barnsley team-mates.

The scoreboard at the final whistle of the League Cup encounter in September 2004 displayed a sobering summary: Manchester City 7 Barnsley 1.

That said, it could have been worse with City firing five goals in a one-sided first period and threatening a cricket score en route to their biggest win under Kevin Keegan’s tenure.

It may be pushing it to expect the Reds to turn the tables and somehow reverse that result by winning tomorrow tea-time, but the veteran Barnsley defender is sure of one thing: there will not be a repeat of that disspiriting autumnal night for the Reds, who have enjoyed an invigorating New Year renaissance under David Flitcroft.

Recalling Barnsley’s last Etihad visit, Hassell said: “Paul Hart played the youth team – and me – because we had a big game coming up.

“They had the first team out and the likes of Joey Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips were playing and they gave us the runaround.

“I knew that going there with the team we had we were going to get a good hiding.

“But that will not happen again this time. We are in good form and are going there full of confidence.

“We have changed formation and our style of play and we are scoring goals, which is the big thing.

“Before our run, we were dominating teams earlier this season and losing say 1-0.

“Now we have got goals. I think we have scored in every game since ‘Flicker’ took over and if you do that, you always have a chance.”

Having lined up from the off in just five matches this term, Hassell’s starting involvement at the Etihad is open to question, although he did start for the Reds in away-day victories at MK Dons and Hull City in the previous two rounds.

What cannot be doubted, according to the 32-year-old, who sampled famous cup days for the Oakwell outfit against Liverpool and Chelsea in 2007-08, is that all the pressure will be heaped on City’s shoulders come kick-off tomorrow.

He added: “It is a big game for the club although, in all honesty, we were wanting a Millwall or someone at home, so we could get to the semis.

“But this will be a cup final in a way and we can go there with nothing to lose and there is no pressure on us at all.”