Chris Kirkland expects another battle against Barnsley today to follow the one at Millwall - and it could be another occasion for him to make a point.
His form has contributed to the team’s revival.
But like any top pro he wants to play in every game - and that means he is not delighted when he is rested for FA Cup games and Damian Martinez takes over. Kirkland will hope that now the Cup is approaching its final stages, with an enticing home tie against Charlton next and quite possibly a place in the quarter finals, his league form will persuade Stuart Gray to field him in a competition that he loves.
But the former England keeper was smiling when he told The Star he is taking Gray’s cup policy “not very well” and added:
“I need to see the gaffer about that! I was brought up on the FA Cup; it’s special. The older you get, the more you appreciate it.
“I’ll be banging on the gaffer’s door when it comes around.”
Martinez too has performed impressively, in the Cup-ties, and he and Kirkland are friendly rivals.
“He’s a good lad,” says the senior man. “He works hard. He’s done great. We’ve got a good relationship. But I want to get back in there (for the Cup) if I can.” But the visit of Barnsley is currently at the centre of his focus: “It’s a derby. The fans are going to be really up for it. You have to try to play the game, not the occasion.
“We have to try to carry on everything we have been doing for the last few weeks.
“It’s always a battle in this league. We’re working hard for each other. The gaffer’s done great. He’s got the lads playing; thay all want to play for him, and they’re willing to run through a brick wall for him.
“He deserves a lot of credit for the way we’re playing.”