AN­FIELD AWAITS!

Ex­eter City de­fender Jamie McAl­lis­ter looks ahead to their Liverpool re­play

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Paddy von Behr

AF­TER two decades of pro­fes­sional foot­ball, Jamie McAl­lis­ter is ready to ful­fil a boy­hood dream and play at An­field.

McAl­lis­ter, pic­tured below, be­gan his ca­reer at Queen of the South in his na­tive Scot­land 20 years ago, en­joyed long stints with Aberdeen and Bris­tol City and even a brief spell with In­dia’s Ker­ala Blasters in 2014.

Al­most ex­actly a year ago, how­ever, he re­turned to th­ese shores to join Ex­eter.

Op­por­tu­nity

Fast for­ward to this month and the 37-year-old full-back – grad­u­ally re­turn­ing to fit­ness from a hip flexor in­jury – sat on the bench as the Gre­cians hosted Liverpool in the FA Cup third round.

And while Brad Smith’s late lev­eller de­nied Ex­eter vic­tory, it did throw up a money-spin­ning re­play for the League Two side and a dream trip to the North West for McAl­lis­ter.

“Get­ting my cap for Scot­land, win­ning at Wem­b­ley with Yeovil and get­ting pro­moted with Bris­tol City, I have been for­tu­nate to have some great mo­ments,” he said. “But win­ning at An­field would be up there.

“You don’t get the op­por­tu­nity to play at An­field ev­ery day and I have never played there in my 20 years in the game.

“Grow­ing up as a boy I liked Liverpool, I liked the way they played, and An­field al­ways seems to be an un­be­liev­able at­mos­phere.”

And af­ter turn­ing out against More­cambe on Tues­day – his first ap­pear­ance for more than seven weeks – a fit-again McAl­lis­ter is in the frame for a start­ing berth.

He con­tin­ued: “You want to be start­ing but my lit­tle boy Reuben just told me ‘you bet­ter play against Liverpool at An­field’. It’s ex­cit­ing for some­one even at my age.”

The ini­tial third-round tie was an odd one, as Jur­gen Klopp named a side with just 34 Liverpool ap­pear­ances be­tween them this sea­son – of which 21 be­longed to Bel­gium striker Chris­tian Ben­teke.

Ben­teke was out­shone by 22year-old Tom Ni­chols, who opened the scor­ing on his way to be­ing named man of the match.

And while he couldn’t quite see off the Premier League gi­ants, McAl­lis­ter was not the only one to raise a smile at the prospect of a re­play – with Wed­nes­day’s clash set to earn Ex­eter an es­ti­mated £700,000.

“It was bit­ter­sweet,” re­called McAl­lis­ter. “The boys felt they had done enough to win the game but the guys up­stairs would want the re­play for the rev­enue! It’s ex­cel­lent for the club in many ways so it’s nice all round.

“There was a great buzz about the club.We have got a few young lads who have not played in games like that and to get the re­play was su­perb.

In­juries

“We have got to look at our­selves first and fore­most and hope­fully on the night they have an off night and we are on top of our game and get a bit of luck.

“It would be nice if there are some of their big hit­ters but with the fix­tures they have got com­ing up, and a lot of in­juries at the mo­ment, I’m not sure.”

As for Ni­chols, all eyes will be on him on Wed­nes­day night but it would ap­pear a num­ber of scouts are watch­ing him closely any­way.

McAl­lis­ter ad­mits trans­fer spec­u­la­tion is noth­ing out of the or­di­nary at this time of year and with the Gre­cians’ young stars tak­ing to the big stage, man­ager Paul Tis­dale could face a fight to keep hold of a few.

“We have a good group of young lads,” McAl­lis­ter con­tin­ued. “Tom is an ex­cit­ing young player, as is David Wheeler, who might be back for the re­play, and Jor­dan Moore-Tay­lor at cen­tre-half is a very good young player.

“Any one of them could go in the win­dow but Tom gets the head­lines be­cause he scores goals. Fin­gers crossed he gets a few more!”

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