Middlesbrough defender Aden Flint will receive a warm welcome when he returns to Ashton Gate on Saturday afternoon, according to Bristol City boss Lee Johnson.
The giant centre-back, who towers above his opponents at 6 ft 6, left City for Boro in the summer for a reported £7million fee, and is expected to face his former team when the two sides meet in the Championship this weekend.
Flint, 28, was a popular figure in the South West after making 209 league appearances for City, while also helping the Robins reach the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup last season.
“He’ll get a good reception,” said Johnson. “Mainly because he’s a big lurch. And Ashton Gate loves a freak. I mean that in a loving way as we got on really well.”
Flint has become the linchpin in Boro’s backline following the departure of Ben Gibson to Burnley.
After a shaky start away at Millwall, when his poor back-header resulted in a goal, Flint has helped Tony Pulis’ side keep back-to-back clean sheets in the league.
He has also been a huge threat, literally, in the opposition’s penalty area, and scored his first Boro in the 3-0 victory over Sheffield United.
Johnson, though, is relishing the chance to go up against a promotion favourite and one of the most experienced managers in the division.
“They are the big hitters of the division but not one we fear at all,” said Johnson. “We thrive in these type of games.
“The atmosphere at Ashton Gate will be good. We could be perceived as the underdog and I know the crowd is notorious for being the 12th man in that circumstance and the boys are looking forward to it.
“I know that Tony (Pulis) is close to Keith Dawe (a board member at City) and we have got quite a few mutual friends. He’s always been really good when we’ve spoken and he is what he is: a successful football manager.”