JASON Lowe can’t wait to lock horns with Joey Barton again – even if the Fleetwood boss will be tucked away in the dugout.

The Bolton skipper had a few midfield tussles with Barton earlier in his career and even picked up a memento of their last meeting – a 3-2 victory for Blackburn Rovers against QPR in the Premier League seven years ago.

“I think I got one of his shirts when I was younger,” he told The Bolton News. “He was someone you knew was about, for sure, and I admired him – fantastic player.

“His temperament, playing the game on the edge, he was really effective. I am sure his team will have some of that same fighting spirit so we’d better be ready for a tough game.

“As with any opponent you have to win your battles. He definitely had that ethos as a player. So whoever goes on the pitch Saturday will have to dig in.”

There has been a bittersweet feel about the Bolton camp over the last few days, as an upturn in results has been tempered by the news that Ali Crawford is likely to miss several months of football after damaging knee ligaments.

Lowe says it is important the team does not brood on their misfortune and look to put more points on the board.

“Winning breeds confidence and it’s a great habit to have,” he said. “Just to say we have got back-to-back victories, be able to say that, is a big thing for us at the moment. We take that confidence forward to the weekend.

“The injuries we have had are unfortunate. And for Ali it looks like it’s not great. We’ll have to deal with what comes our way – injuries, suspensions, you have to adapt.

“It’s a disappointment for us, for Ali, and a blow to the club but we have to deal with it as best we can.”

Wanderers were made to work hard by Manchester City’s youngsters on Tuesday night and Lowe could not help but be impressed with the talent the Premier League club are bringing through the ranks.

“To get the job done is the main thing,” he said. “I don’t think it was a great performance but to come out with a victory is always nice, so on to the next one.

“They have some amazing young players, the fundamentals to have really good careers the lot of them. They have every chance in the game if they keep on developing.

“You have to have a lot of courage to play that way. Their intelligence you can feel in the way they play and that they are being taught the right way.”

Keith Hill believes tomorrow’s opponents, who have carefully crafted a solid squad in recent years, are now in a position to push towards the Championship.

It is only seven years since the Cod Army was promoted to the Football League but funded by businessman Andy Pilley, the club has steadily built to the point where Hill thinks they could rival some of the established big guns in the division for a top two spot.

“I have always been an admirer of how Andy Piley has done things there, he’s a keen investor in the infrastructure – their training facility is amazing – and bring in Joe Barton has given it higher profile,” he said.

“Joey’s recruitment has given them a chance this season. I do fancy them as a promotion contender and I know Joey might play that down a little bit but I do think they have got a top three set of players.

“If I am Joey then I am thinking promotion this season with the squad he’s built and retained.

“Regardless of Sunderland, Portsmouth, I know that quietly behind the scenes he’s built a very good squad there. Andy has built that and he should be very proud of it.

“I think they have a potential promotion-winning squad there and they have married up their squad with whoever they played against really well.

“We’re up for the challenge. We can assess and evaluate how well they have done afterwards but realistically it’s just another game.”

Barton has also seen an improvement in Wanderers' performances of late and notes that they are a different prospect to the team which played out the opening few games of the season - urging his side to keep focus.

“The team everyone else played in the early part of the season is not the team people are now playing, so we know they’re well organised.

“They have some wily old foxes in there, some good campaigners. Keith Hill (manager) and Dave Flitcroft (assistant) will have them organised and we know it won’t be the easy fixture it probably was in the early part.

“We’ll have to be superb (to win) but that’s the same against anyone because it’s a competitive league. If you switch off for half a second you get your punishment."