Derby County Under-18s face Everton at Pride Park Stadium tonight in the Third Round of the FA Youth Cup (7pm kick-off).
The Under-18s face a testing tie in their first game of the competition and the reigning National Champions will be looking to embark on an impressive cup run.
From their 10 games so far this season, the Rams have won five and lost five, without drawing a single match. That has put them seventh in the Under-18 table but they only sit three points behind tonight’s opponents Everton.
The Toffees have played a game less than the Rams but did beat them 2-1 on the opening day of the season at Everton’s training ground, Finch Farm.
It’s set to be a tight encounter at Pride Park Stadium this evening, however, the Rams have shown in recent years that they can rise to the big occasions.
Last season, Derby beat Blackpool at Bloomfield Road at this stage of the competition before beating Sheffield United at Pride Park Stadium in Round Four. They were eventually knocked out by eventual finalists Manchester City, whilst visitors Everton made it a step further last season by reaching the Sixth Round.
They beat Sunderland, Stoke City and Brighton & Hove Albion before being knocked out to West Bromwich Albion, who would eventually be beaten by Manchester City in the semi-final.
Derby have a full-strength squad to choose from which means Louie Sibley could be in line to start the game, whilst hat-trick hero from the 5-2 victory against Arsenal back in May, Archie Brown, could also be in line to appear.
Speaking ahead of the game, Under-18s boss Justin Walker said: “Most clubs in the country look forward to the FA Youth Cup and I know the scholars hang their hat on this.
“We are lucky this year that we have a variety of competitions to play in but our full focus is on the game. There has been a lot of names that started out and made a name for themselves in this competition.
“With the characters that we have got, we tend to be at our best when the backs are against the walls.
“It will be a challenging game. We have not beaten Everton for about 18 months so it will be a challenge but it’s something we are looking forward to being successful with.”
Derby County fans are encouraged to support the youngsters tonight at Pride Park. It’s free admission in the East Stand, but make sure to wrap up warm as the forecast suggest temperatures will drop later on.
The turnstiles will open at 6pm so make sure to come down to support the Rams' young stars.