Belfast Telegraph

Hutton gets set for Cliftonville’s Bolton test

By Conor McLoughlin

If there's one man at Solitude unlikely to be frozen by stage fright on the big occasion, it's Peter Hutton.

The veteran Cliftonville defender has been there, done that and claimed a closet-full of T-shirts throughout a trophy-laden career with Derry City and, as he prepares to face the might of Bolton Wanderers this evening, he admits he's looking forward to taking on the big guns.

“It's not often Irish League players come up against Premier League opposition so it should be a good experience for us all,” he explains.

“You usually find English teams heading to Dubai or the Far East for their friendlies because that's where the money lies so it's a real coup for Cliftonville that Bolton are coming to Solitude — especially in the middle of their season.

“They're absolutely flying at the minute, too.”

Among Wanderers' travelling contingent will be chairman Phil Gartside and Sir Dave Richards, chairman of the FA Premier League, both of whom will be VIP guests as Cliftonville officially open their new 3G pitch.

As a staunch footballing traditionalist, Hutton freely admits to favouring a grass surface but won't be putting in any complaints if the Reds can replicate the sort of football they produced in Saturday's 5-0 hammering of Ballymena United.

“It was fairly emphatic and I think it sent out a real message — to ourselves more than anyone else,” adds the 37-year-old.

“We went through a bit of a wobble there with three defeats in a row and we needed a performance to remind everyone how good we can be.

“Once we got the first goal against Ballymena, that was it, we were on our way and you could see the confidence surging back through us all.”

Having captained Derry on the memorable 2006 UEFA Cup run which was eventually ended by Paris Saint-Germain and no stranger to glamour friendly opposition at the Brandywell, Hutton is not fazed by the prospect of who he may or may not come up against this evening.

“I'm sure Bolton will name a good strong squad but they'll also look to give some game time to some of the boys who aren't playing so regularly on the domestic front,” he says.

“The likes of Johan Elmander and Kevin Davies have been on fire so you’re maybe looking at boys such as Robbie Blake and Ivan Klasnic getting a run out — but they're not too shabby themselves, are they?”

l Kick-off at Solitude is 7.30pm and tickets, from as little as £8, will be on sale from 9am.

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