The North End boss is expecting quite a test of his side when Neil Adams’ Norwich City arrive in PR1 at the weekend.
With no New Year’s Day game this season, the FA Cup is the book end for what everyone hopes will be a successful 12 months for the Club and it is a game the manager expects to be a litmus test for how far his side have progressed in the year gone by.
“It is strange to not be playing, especially when the Premier League are playing, but the fixtures are what they are and we are planning for a big cup game,” he said.
“It will be a big test for us. They are a Club looking to get straight back into the Premier League and when you look at their squad it has an unbelievable depth to it.
“They could possibly make 11 changes and still be very very strong, but whatever team they put out we will try and do our best to beat them.
“We tested ourselves against Ipswich last year and eventually got through, as well as showing a good account of ourselves Nottingham Forest and we are looking forward to it.
“We have two big cup ties in a week. Our priority is the league and then the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, but we want to win every match that we are involved in.”
The tie will also give the fans an opportunity to welcome back goalkeeper Declan Rudd, who could possibly be given a chance to start against the side he spent almost 18 months on loan with.
“Declan did really well for us. He is a favourite at the football club and if he does play it will be nice for him.
“Obviously I would encourage all the supporters to give him some stick to try and make it a difficult afternoon for him!” Joked the gaffer.
“He did extremely well for us and he is going to be a very good goalkeeper for some football club – whether he plays against us we will have to wait and see. It will be nice to see him and hopefully we give him a tough afternoon.
“They have a few other players that I have worked with before and managed and it is a good squad and good test for us.”
With two important cup ties and then a tough league clash away at Sheffield United the 45-year-old admitted that he will have to consider whether to rotate his squad for the games and prioritise.
“I have to make a decision about what team to pick. Our priority is the next league game, at Sheffield United, and then the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy fixture on the Wednesday.
“We will try and get the balance right and keep everybody as fit as possible – if I pick the same game for all three games then so be it, but I need to consider rotating the squad as well.
“We want to win all three games and we are only without the long term absentees; Joe Garner and Jordan Hugill; we have had a virus in the squad, but we will give everyone a chance to be available for the game,” he added.