JOHN MULLIN doesn’t want his brother Paul to leave Accrington Stanley - but says he has no doubt the striker can play at a higher level.
The two have been reunited at Stanley this season and young brother John, at 33, is gearing up to face his old club Tranmere Rovers in the E.On sponsored FA Cup first round tomorrow.
But most of the talk this week has been surrounding Rochdale’s £55,000 bid for Stanley stalwart Paul, 34 - which was turned down last week.
"I am not surprised clubs are chasing Paul," said ex-Premiership midfielder John.
"Paul has been unfortunate not to be picked up earlier in his career.
"I am sure a lot of higher division clubs are now sitting up and taking notice of him but, once you get passed a certain age, people are reluctant to take a chance especially maybe clubs in League One.
"But I have no doubt he can play at thal level.
"You do not get many centre forwards who have Paul’s physical presence and work-rate and he compliments that with goals.
"And I am not just saying that because he is my brother!"
He continued: "We would definitely miss him if he went - he would be so difficult to replace.
"But you don’t want to lose anyone from the club because we have a good blend of youth and experience here and a brilliant team spirit."
And the good humour is there despite the brothers coming in for lot of stick for their similarities.
"We get the Mitchell brothers, the Kray twins - assistant boss Jimmy Bell likes to call us Ronnie and Reggie - Right Said Fred - you name it we get it.
"But it is all in the banter - I have probably been called worse!"
But, despite the stick, John is proving a hit at Stanley and has commanded a regular place in the Stanley midfield after recovering from an injury in pre-season.
He admits it is a relief to be finally playing week in week out after a ankle operation wrecked last season for him at Tranmere. And he can show his old club what they are missing again.
The Reds have met Ronnie Moore’s side already this season, losing in the Johnstone Paints’ Trophy with Stanley fielding a weakened team.
He knows this will count for nothing though as the magic of the FA Cup first round takes hold - and the lure of £20,000 prize money for getting through round one.
"I was surprised we drew them again after drawing them in the Johnstone Paints trophy," said ex-Sunderland and Burnley player Mullin.
"It is a massive game for us. The FA Cup is a fantastic competition and it is something we, as players, look forward to."
Mullin continued: "But it will be tough. We are the underdogs and they will be well-drilled and well organised and have some good players in the side.
"But there have been plenty of upsets over the years and why can’t it be us?
"I am enjoying it at Accrington at the moment. I don’t want to get too carried away as you always fear an injury could come back and haunt you but it is nice to get some momentum.
"They are a good team to play with.
"We should have more points on the board than we have but we are going in the right direction and if we can carry this on, it will breed confidence."
Stanley have had one cup run - where they made the third round in 2003 claiming the scalps of Huddersfield and Bournemouth before losing to Colchester in a replay. Not the most attractive draws for the then non league side but it was a huge financial boost.
But the younger Mullin has had some decent FA Cup runs in his career.
"I had a good cup run when we were at Burnley in 1999/2000. We faced Derby who were then in the Premiership and we were in the Second Division - we beat them 1-0. That was a great match.
"And at Rotherham, we beat Premiership Southampton 2-1 - I scored - and then I scored in the next round but we lost to Crewe."
And the former frontman admits a debut goal would be nice for Stanley against his old club.
"I was having a think the other day that I have not even had a shot!
"I have not even come close to scoring so I had better change that. I will have to get further up the pitch as you have got to have a shot to score!
"I am, though, playing a different role these days - a bit more defensive - so I have got to get the balance right but it would be nice to at least have a go!"