Millwall V Bolton at The New Den : Match Preview
Jackett relishes Premier test
Kenny Jackett is relishing the chance to play against Barclays Premier League opposition as his Millwall side host Bolton in the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday.
Both teams will get the chance to put their poor standings in their respective divisions to one side when they meet at the Den.
The Lions are hovering just six points and two places above the npower Championship relegation zone, while Owen Coyle's men are second bottom of the Premier League.
Yet Millwall made a mockery of their position when they claimed a 3-2 victory at Championship promotion-chasers Southampton to set up a clash with the Trotters.
Jackett is fully aware of the problems Bolton will cause although he hopes having home advantage will ultimately count in Millwall's favour.
"I see it as a fantastic opportunity for our players to pit their wits against Premier League players and an established Premier League side for quite a number of years,"
Jackett told the club's official website. "I have a huge amount of respect for their manager Owen Coyle, who's done a fantastic job at every club he's been at.
"We know it'll be a tough game and it's one we're looking forward to. "And if the players perform, if the players start well, if the players play with quality and passion, then the supporters will make it a fantastic atmosphere and the Den is a cracking atmosphere when there's a big game and also when we're the underdogs."
Millwall, who required replays to get past both Dagenham and Southampton in the previous rounds, have not beaten a top-flight club in the competition since 1995.
They suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat to then-Premier League outfit Birmingham at the fourth-round stage last year and Jackett has called on his players not to fall into the same traps.
"We had one or two chances early on but Birmingham got the first goal and went from strength to strength," he said. "We have to learn from that particular game."
The 2004 finalists go into tomorrow unbeaten in three matches in all competitions and on the back of a solid midweek performance in a 2-2 draw at play-off hopefuls Brighton, who rescued a point thanks to Kazenga LuaLua's 88th-minute strike.
Jackett has seen an improvement in his team's performances since they were beaten by Watford on January 31, and the former Swansea boss is keen to see that continue against Bolton.
"The last few games since the Watford game, we've had good performances and played very well after that poor night and we want to continue that," he added.
"We don't want to be inconsistent, we want to make sure we keep building up and playing well. "Part of it is our flow and our structure as a side to make sure that we keep progressing."
Millwall came through Tuesday's clash on the south coast unscathed, although midfielders Tamika Mkandawire (knee) and Therry Racon (ankle) are set to remain in the treatment room.
Andy Keogh and Liam Feeney both marked their promotions to the first team with goals against Brighton and are likely to retain their places against the Trotters.
Coyle is a firm believer in the beneficial impact a cup run can have upon a team's league campaign. Some would argue that Coyle's side need complete focus upon their top-flight survival bid and could do without the match, but it is a view the Scot does not share.
He took four-time FA Cup winners Bolton to the semi-finals of the competition last season and when they lined up for their final-four clash with Stoke, their league form had been such that they were comfortably placed in the top half.
That form then began to falter after they were ousted by the Potters in a crushing 5-0 defeat - they eventually finished 14th - and as far as Coyle is concerned, cup progress should not be seen as a troublesome distraction from league fixtures, but rather as a useful means of boosting confidence for them.
"The FA Cup is the best cup competition in world football - if anybody thinks otherwise, I would take issue with that," Coyle said.
"We have a tremendous history and tradition and a lot of it involves the FA Cup.
"We want to go as far as we can and if you can win games in football, it is certainly never a distraction. What it does is breed confidence and give everybody a lift, and that is why we are looking forward to this game."
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