Gary Bowyer has called on his Blackpool players to thrive on their underdog status in their FA Cup tie with Barnsley.
The Seasiders face Championship opposition having seen off two non-league sides in their previous two cup ties, with a 2-0 win against Kidderminster and a narrow 1-0 victory over Brackley Town.
But Bowyer accepts Blackpool will be firm underdogs heading into their game against the Tykes – who are currently flying high in eighth position in the Championship.
He said: “When I first came in I had a meeting with the players and one of the things I said was that I wanted to get to the third round and test ourselves against higher league opposition – and we’ve got that opportunity now.
“It’s a great welcome for us in the sense we were the favourites in our two previous ties. We had everything to lose and it was set up for a shock in those two rounds.
“Now we are potentially one of those teams that can go and cause a shock and I’m delighted we have that opportunity.
“But the biggest thing is for the players to test themselves against higher league opposition to see how good they are and to see how far they’ve got to go to get to that level. If they don’t relish that opportunity they shouldn’t be playing.”
This is not the first time the Seasiders will have faced higher league opposition this season after August’s 2-0 League Cup defeat at Crystal Palace,.
But with a cup tie on home turf, Bowyer has called on his players to take the game to their visitors.
He added: “The message is: ‘go and test yourself against Championship players.’ We’ve had the opportunity this season to go and play Crystal Palace and we didn’t disgrace ourselves there, although we had a few players missing.
“But now we’ve got a virtually fully fit squad and it’s up to us to go and have a right good go at Barnsley.”
Despite the game following on from the 1-0 defeat at home to Mansfield, Bowyer insists the game comes at a good time for his players.
“Obviously we’d like to get back on the horse so to speak after a defeat in the league, the game presents us with a free hit to go and express ourselves,” he said.
“I think outside our dressing room there won’t be many that will give us a chance of winning the game, but on a cup day anything can happen.”