Billing sets sights on Toure encounter

Published: Friday 17th February 2017 by The News Editor

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Huddersfield midfielder Philip Billing hopes to go head to head with boyhood hero Yaya Toure when Manchester City visit a sold-out John Smith’s Stadium in the FA Cup.

Toure, 33, has started in both City’s FA Cup ties this season and Billing, expected to line up for Town on Saturday in the absence of three midfield team-mates, may have to pinch himself when the game kicks off.

When asked if he was looking forward to facing anyone in particular in the fifth-round tie, the 20-year-old Dane said with a smile: “Of course, Yaya Toure.

“He’s been one of my idols for a long time. I’ve watched him in the Premier League week in, week out and it will be nice to play against him.”

If both players feature in front of an expected record crowd for a football game at the John Smith’s, Toure, 6ft 2in, could be the one looking up as beanpole Billing is 6ft 6in.

Toure is enjoying an Indian Summer at the Etihad Stadium, back in favour and a regular contributor under Pep Guardiola following reports he was on his way out in January.

Billing, of whom much is expected at Huddersfield, is also just getting going again.

The Denmark Under-19 international sustained an ankle injury in pre-season and after failing to impress head coach David Wagner on his return to full fitness, has finally forced his way back into the German’s plans.

“I’ve always watched Toure, ever since he was at Barca,” Billing said. “I just think he’s a really good footballer.

“He’s got everything and it will be a good test to play against him. He’s showing now just what he’s capable of at Man City.”

Billing has been full of admiration for another City midfielder this season, with Aaron Mooy proving Huddersfield’s driving force since arriving on loan in the summer.

The Australia international is ineligible to face his parent club on Saturday – fellow Town midfielders Jonathan Hogg and Kasey Palmer are both out with hamstring injuries – but his form is unlikely to have gone unnoticed by Guardiola.

Billing has no doubts the former Melbourne City midfielder is ready to hold his own in the top flight.

“From what I’ve seen yes, he’s such a good footballer,” Billing said.

“He’s probably the best loan player the club have had in a long time if I’m being honest.

“I think he’s definitely got the qualities to be playing in the Premier League.

“Watching him in training, you learn. It’s hard to explain but he’s so calm on the ball and you learn from players like that, definitely.”

Billing agrees Town’s priority this season is promotion to finally end their 45-year exile from the top flight.

But Wagner’s side, third in the Sky Bet Championship, have won 12 and lost one of their last 15 games in all competitions and Billing is not ruling out an upset.

“We’ve got a great chance to win this game if we go and play like we normally do because we’re not near the top of the table for no reason,” he added.

“We’ve been playing great the whole season and I’m sure we can get a positive result.”

Published: Friday 17th February 2017 by The News Editor

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