Derby County Academy manager Darren Wassall says youngsters must keep their feet on the ground after Youth Cup victory over Manchester City
DARREN Wassall is determined to make sure his Derby County young guns do not get carried away with their FA Youth Cup exploits.
The Rams under-18s knocked out big-spending Manchester City at Pride Park Stadium on Tuesday night to set up a home quarter-final tie against holders Chelsea on Friday.
Wassall admitted the City result was one of his best as Academy manager – but was quick to turn his attention to today's Under-18 PDL Two North fixture away to Sheffield United (11am).
"At youth team level, it's about producing players, performances and results," he said.
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"We're not going to get carried away with one result, because we know the biggest thing we've got to do is produce players for the first-team squad and that's no easy task.
"But if we can win a few games along the way, we'll be delighted.
"Sheffield United is a massive test for us now, because we're on a high – and rightly so. But the sign of a good player and a good team is that they can get themselves up for every game, not just the big ones.
"We want to keep this run going and players will be told in no uncertain terms that this performance cannot be just a one-off."
Wassall's youngsters have now won eight games in a row, including two friendly matches.
The run was sparked off by the Youth Cup third round success against Gateshead in December, their first victory of the season.
"We were a bit unlucky at the start of the season and didn't really have the rub of the green," said Wassall.
"We drew games we should have won and lost games we should have drawn.
"That happens in football but the big thing is that the lads didn't give up. They dug in and have shown a lot of determination and character.
"It was a big win against Gateshead after a torrid run of results and that really spurred them on.
"We're delighted for them because they have worked very hard for it."
Goals from Adam Wixted and Jamie Hanson were enough to see off a City side believed to have cost more to assemble than Derby's current first team.
"We didn't tell the players before the game because we didn't want to worry them but they have signed players from the likes of Real Madrid, Benfica and Anderlecht for millions of pounds," said Wassall.
"So we knew we were up against it – but it just goes to show that ability alone is not enough.
"You've got to work hard and be up for the fight – and our lads certainly were. It was a real team effort."
First-team regular Will Hughes was named on the bench against Ipswich Town in the previous round – but the England Under-21 international was unavailable in midweek due to a groin injury.
Wassall joked: "He's not going to get in the squad anyway now!"
He added: "It's great that we were able to do what we did even without Will.
"It just shows the quality of the players we've got that we can take on the might of Man City with all the money that they have spent – and without our 'star performer'."
Another member of the Rams' senior squad, 16-year-old striker Mason Bennett, produced his best display in the competition so far against City.
"We said to him that he probably owed us one, because his performances in the previous two rounds weren't up to the standard Mason can produce," said Wassall.
"People forget he is still only 16, so he is going to be up and down.
"He's done brilliantly to start his career at Derby and get around the first team.
"And to play so well for us, we're delighted for him."
Derby's first-team squad and coaching staff, including manager Nigel Clough, were in the stands to watch Tuesday's game.
"It sums this club up that they were all here," said Wassall.
"The manager put training back, so they could all go for a meal and then come to watch the match.
"They all wanted to and a lot of them were in the dressing room to wish the lads well before the game and to congratulate them afterwards.
"It's great to be a part of and long may it continue."