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Johnson relishing another night under the lights

Friday 13th may prove unlucky for one of tonight’s teams but Bristol City boss Lee Johnson says his squad head into the Burton Albion clash full of confidence.

For City, it’s a chance to extend their unbeaten run to 12 games in all competitions and climb the Championship table to second place.

It will be two weeks since City’s 3-1 away win against Ipswich Town because of the international break, which saw Hordur Magnusson’s Iceland qualify for the World Cup in Russia.

And Callum O’Dowda’s Republic of Ireland, Bailey Wright’s Australia and Famara Diédhiou’s Senegal are all still in with a shout of qualifying for the World Cup finals.

Speaking about the break from league football, Johnson told BCTV: “It was good. I hadn’t spoken to a lot of the lads who I had given four days off – Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Some use it to see their family who they haven’t seen for a while and some use it to go abroad.

“I used it to have a day trip in London - I was on the Sky Sports Soccer Saturday panel, which I enjoyed. It was the first time I had done that and I took my little girl out to London afterwards to a West End show. It was good fun.

“I saw Hordur [Magnusson] yesterday. There was some good banter flying around and understandably they are legends already. It’s the first time Iceland will have ever been to the World Cup. It’s fantastic and we are absolutely delighted for them.

"If Ireland and Australia can get through it will be great. You’ve got Senegal as well that still have a chance so potentially we could have four of five players at the World Cup from Bristol City.”

UNBEATEN AGAINST THE BREWERS

City’s stars now have to turn their attentions to hosting struggling Burton Albion, who they have never lost against - albeit from just two meetings.

Both fixtures came during the 2016/17 campaign; a 0-0 draw at Ashton Gate back in March after City’s 2-1 victory the previous August.

Johnson said: “It will be a really tough game. I played for Nigel Clough and I know how much of a great motivator he is, the way he thinks and it’s been interesting that they have been away to Marbella for a team bonding experience.

“They’ve had two heavy losses but I don’t expect that to influence the mindset of their players. They are quite experienced so they know what they’re about and they know what the Championship is all about.

“A lot of them have played at a higher level and we are quite inexperienced in comparison. Yes, we are in form, which is great. The players are going into it with confidence levels high and I expect it to be a typical blood and thunder Championship-type game where we will have to be at our best if we are to have a chance of getting a result.”

UNDER THE LIGHTS

Tonight’s match also brings another fixture under the Ashton Gate lights for the City faithful, something the club’s management team had been keen to encourage this season.

The City head coach continued: “We talked about this at the start of the year, Mark Ashton and I, about potentially bringing a couple of games to a Friday night. This one works quite well with Bristol Rovers playing on Saturday, so we gave that one up to have a night game.

“Hopefully the fans enjoy it - they can come away from work, relax and go out after and hopefully it will be a celebration. They even have a couple of days to recover!

“It’s three points, that’s the big incentive. We can go second in the Championship but we would only go second for a day probably because most of the teams play on Saturday.

“But it is an opportunity and with every opportunity should bring enthusiasm from the players and supporters. We’re in credit with everybody at the moment and that’s the key. We are a young group, we need lots of encouragement from the fanbase and it’s really powerful when we get that and Friday night will be no different.”

Injury-wise, Gary O’Neil faces three to four months off the pitch as he recovers from a knee injury. Milan Djuric has returned to training and Eros Pisano is expected to be fit again in a week’s time.

Club captain Wright will undergo a fitness test this morning and Matty Taylor will be considered for selection after rolling his ankle during the Portman Road victory.

FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

City supporters can pay on the night when Burton visit BS3 this evening.

Alternatively, book in advance by calling 0117 963 0600 or online below.

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