MATT Ritchie insists his former boss Danny Wilson will have Barnsley “fired up and ready for a battle” when they lock horns with Cherries tomorrow.
Wilson, appointed Tykes manager for a second time in December, helped kick-start Ritchie’s career when he signed the winger for Swindon in 2011.
Ritchie, back in training following a bout of sickness, will be hoping Cherries can put a dent in Barnsley’s bid for Championship survival at Oakwell (3pm).
Despite propping up the table, Barnsley’s fortunes have improved under Wilson with the south Yorkshire outfit having gained three wins and two draws from their past six home games.
Ritchie, who missed Cherries’ defeat at Charlton on Tuesday, told the Daily Echo: “They are in the mix at the bottom and will be fighting for their lives. Danny Wilson is a good motivator and I know he will have them fired up and ready for a battle.
“He is a good manager and I enjoyed working under him. He took me to Swindon from Portsmouth and we were unfortunate to get relegated in my first season. We had a very good team and should never have gone down.
“You owe every manager who gives you a chance to go and express yourself on the pitch and I owe him for giving me my opportunity to play week in, week out when I was so young. He believed in me and I played almost every game under him while he was there.
“He gets his teams organised and with a good structure. I suspect they will look to get the ball wide and get crosses into the box. It certainly won’t be easy for us. They have picked up a bit since Danny went there and their recent form isn’t as bad as their league position reflects.
“As we know already, there are no pushovers in this league and every game is tough. On our day, we feel we can be a match for anybody and are confident heading into the game.”
Ritchie, who followed up his League Two player of the year in 2012-13 by winning the award in League One last season, will be hoping to regain his place against the Tykes.
The 24-year-old added: “I had a bit of sickness for a few days but am ready to go now. I trained this morning and felt fresh so, hopefully, I will be in contention.
“Having four wingers keeps you on your toes. The club is going forward and good players are coming in. There is competition for places and that is the best way to progress and to get the best out of people.
"If you know someone could step in and replace you, you have to perform to the best of your ability so it is only a good thing.”