Croft relishing top-flight test
Tue, 26 Feb 2013 12:01:00
Oldham duo Lee Croft and Jordan Obita are relishing the opportunity of testing themselves against top-class opposition once more.
The duo starred in Latics' 2-2 FA Cup draw against Everton 10 days ago, with Croft laying on Obita's opening goal amid a fervent Boundary Park atmosphere, and they are poised for the chance to impress again at Goodison Park in tonight's fifth-round replay.
Obita, 19, is a young, pacey product of Reading's youth system and joined Oldham on deadline day last month to gain vital experience of first-team football in the hope of making the grade in the top flight - a position familiar to Croft while on Manchester City's books eight years ago.
The 27-year-old first played for Oldham in the 2004/05 season before returning to Eastlands and making 28 Premier League appearances for City.
Moves to Norwich and Derby followed, along with loan spells at Huddersfield and St Johnstone, before the Rams cancelled Croft's contract to make his season-long loan with Latics a permanent switch in between the famous fourth-round victory over Liverpool and their Merseyside neighbours' similarly dicey trip along the M62.
"It's nice to go back to a Premier League stadium and play against Premier League teams as we have done this year," Croft said, having started all four of Oldham's unbeaten outings under caretaker boss Tony Philliskirk.
"It's something I was accustomed to a few years ago so it's nice to pit my wits against them again and know I can still do it."
Croft's tussle with England left-back Leighton Baines was an engaging feature of the first match and he is looking forward to renewing acquaintances.
"In my eyes he'll probably be the England left-back for years to come and it was great was to go up against him," he said.
"I'm looking forward to doing it again. I'm sure it's going to be hard work, as it was in the first game, but it'll be good."