Manager Frank Lampard has praised Derby County Under-18s ahead of their FA Youth Cup clash Fifth Round clash against Manchester City on Thursday evening.
Justin Walker’s side have beaten Blackpool and Sheffield United to reach this stage of the competition and they now face another night under the lights at Pride Park Stadium (7pm kick-off).
It’s a big night for the Under-18s, who sit second in U18 Premier League - North, and the manager paid tribute to the great work undertaken by Walker and the rest of the Academy staff.
“It’s a huge test for them and so much credit goes to Justin Walker and his staff, the players this year and what they have done so far,” Lampard told RamsTV.
“They have nine wins in a row now, which is incredible stuff considering who they are competing against in terms of the likes of Manchester City who are coming on Thursday because of their capabilities financially and the set-up.
“It’s the hard work that has gone in there and I will certainly be there cheering them on and I hope we can get a good turnout for the young lads because they love playing at Pride Park.
“It’s a huge test for them, they have done brilliantly anyway, but let’s hope they can do well on Thursday night.”
The manager has shown his faith in the young players at Derby County this season.
Jayden Bogle has been a first-team regular, while Mason Bennett has been in the first time squad for the majority of the campaign.
Max Bird has made six appearances this season in all competitions, whilst Tyree Wilson, Lee Buchanan, Calum Macdonald and Jayden Mitchell-Lawson have all featured on the bench in recent weeks.
Also, a scattering of Academy players usually join in a first-team training session on a weekly basis and Lampard would have no qualms about including young players in his squads.
“I will continue to do that if and when they show that they are ready,” he said.
“Some of them have shown that in their performances in the youth team and they have shown it when they have trained with us.
“It is great for the club to open the pathway and to see that it is there. It only comes with hard work and improvement.
“Just to step into first-team training is one thing but then into the team is another thing. The hard work is still to come for these boys, but they should definitely get credit for where they have got to.”
Derby County's Under-18s face Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup Fifth Round at Pride Park Stadium on Thursday 31st January (7pm kick-off) and entry is FREE for supporters. Entry to the stadium will be from the East Stand turnstiles.