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Burnley v Bolton preview: It's brotherly war for Clarets new boy Joseph
BATTLE lines will be drawn with an old boss tomorrow, as far as Burnley fans are concerned.
But new boy Joseph Mills is out to settle a different score.
The left back is preparing to go head to head with brother Matt for the third time in their careers.
For the siblings it is 1-1 at the moment.
Joseph was on the winning team for Southampton the first time – in his first year as a professional – with his brother having the misfortune of scoring an own goal in a 2-0 defeat for Doncaster Rovers in September 2008.
Matt exacted revenge just over two years later, when he was on Reading’s books and Joseph had gone to Doncaster on loan.
The centre half found the right net on that occasion, scoring the first in a 4-3 win for the Royals.
Joseph is looking to regain the lead tomorrow, after the fixtures threw up an opening day family affair with their respective new clubs.
But with the brothers sharing a close bond, he admits it is difficult being in opposition camps.
However, Joseph confessed there is a competitive streak that stretches back to their childhood.
"I learned to jump high in the back garden, trying to avoid him taking me out,” he smiled.
"I have three brothers, so with four boys it didn't stay a garden for long. It was a mud pit.
"We had a gas canister and toy car for goalposts, and washing line for a crossbar. Happy days!
"We're very close,” added the 22-year-old, who was given the nickname “Fish” because of Matt.
"When I was born, Matt was only about two, and tried to say Joseph, and it came out Joe-fish.
"Ever since then it's stuck with me, through school, parents, everything.
“Out of my three brothers me and Matt are the closest in age.
"He's always moved about, but we speak to each other pretty much every day.”
But as kick-off draws nearer, they are talking less and less about football.
“I spoke to him on Wednesday, but in the week building up nothing gets said about the game. That's off-limits,” said Joseph.
“We'll speak to each other like normal but as it gets closer to the time we'll be speaking to each other less and less, giving away less and less. When Saturday comes the family thing gets put to one side and it's game day.
“That's most important.
“You've got to put your head right for the game and go out and do your business.
“We've played against each other a couple of times now. It doesn't get any easier.
Their parents, Colin and Julie, find it tough too, but neither will be at Turf Moor tomorrow.
“I'm not happy with them at the moment - they agreed to go to a wedding a year ago, so this will be the first game we've played against each other that they've missed.
"Both our girlfriends will be there, so we'll have some people there.
"My mum hates it, she gets so nervous watching football, but my dad's not too bad.
"Even if she came she'd probably sit inside!
"My dad just stays neutral and wants us both to do well.”
He added: “On Saturday I'll probably see (Matt) and say 'all right' but that will probably be it and we'll get on with the game.
“After the game we'll be back to normal. But we won't speak to each other from about 24 hours before the game. We'll be getting our minds focused.”
Both players will have had the importance of the game drummed into them in the build-up, keeping their minds on the job and not the atmosphere as the return of Owen Coyle provides a sub-plot to an already enthralling story.
Joseph insists the Clarets won’t be distracted from the task, and instead use the anticipated noise to their advantage.
“Nobody is under any illusions about what the atmosphere is going to be like. All the lads know the situation with the manager being here before. I don't think that's something that we focus on as players. We focus on ourselves as a team, how we can play and what they are going to play and how we can line up against them.
“Our fans are going to get right behind us and to start with a local derby on the first day of the season – and a lot of lads' debuts – I think there's a lot to show.
“Speaking to everyone here we all know what we need to do and what we want to do, and that's to get the three points and put on a good performance.
“It's all about the result and getting our season off to a good start and getting on with the campaign.”
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