Derby Under-18s coach Pat Lyons says an FA Youth Cup upset should not be ruled out against Manchester City
ALL the pressure is on Derby County's opponents Manchester City in tonight's FA Youth Cup fifth round tie, according to Rams coach Pat Lyons.
Derby's Under-18s take on the top young talent from the Premier League champions at Pride Park Stadium this evening (7pm kick-off) with a quarter-final home tie against Chelsea up for grabs.
Big-spending City will be favourites to progress but the Rams are on an impressive run of form, having won their last five league and cup games.
"The pressure is on them," said Lyons. "They are expected to win.
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"Chelsea are waiting in the next round and they will be thinking about a possible meeting of two big guns.
"But we want to go and cause an upset.
"They will have some real quality but we will be well prepared and raring to go.
"It would be a great achievement if we could knock them out. We're really looking forward to it – it's a great opportunity for the lads.
"It's another game at Pride Park and we're going into it with a bit of form.
"It's a big occasion and, hopefully, plenty of people will turn up to cheer us on."
City's squad is likely to feature Portugal youth international Marcos Lopes, who scored on his first-team debut for Roberto Mancini's side against Watford in the FA Cup earlier this year, and Spanish Under-17 starlet Jose Angel Pozo, recently signed from Real Madrid.
Derby will be without first-team regular Will Hughes, who came off the bench in the previous round against Ipswich Town but is currently sidelined by a groin injury, and long-term absentee Sam Berry (knee).
But they will have England youth international Mason Bennett and Jamie Hanson available – both of whom were in Nigel Clough's squad at Watford on Saturday.
"Will won't be involved this time but not to worry – we're happy with our squad," said Lyons.
"We've got Mason Bennett and Jamie Hanson, who have both been involved with the first team and no doubt there are a few more looking to impress the gaffer to get their chance.
"We all know Mason is a top player. We're hoping he can perform to his capabilities and show why he has been picked for the first team.
"If he can do that, he will be a real threat."
The 4-0 victory over Gateshead in the third round was Derby's first competitive win of the season after a tough start to their inaugural Under-18 Professional Development League Two North campaign.
They have not lost since, winning three league games and a couple of friendlies – one against a Manchester City side – and knocking Ipswich out of the cup, centre-back Hanson netting the winner in a 3-2 success with a fine free kick.
Another member of the Rams' youth coaching team, Lee Glover, added: "Beating Gateshead was the catalyst that set us off on this good run.
"We weren't playing that badly before – we just needed a bit of confidence and you can see that returning now."
City's cup run so far has seen them beat Sunderland and Manchester United's conquerors, Burnley.
"It should inspire our players that they will be competing against one of the premier clubs in the country," added Glover.
"It will be a big test but this is a chance to show how good they are against one of the best youth sides around.
"A lot of money has been invested in their youth team and they probably have about four different squads to pick from but that is not to say they are world-beaters and we have some good players coming through ourselves.
"I don't think we're massive underdogs, because we're on quite a good run and we think we can give them a game."
Admission for tonight's tie is free for season ticket holders from both clubs. For non-season ticket holders, it costs £3 for adults and £2 concessions.