Derby County Under-18s will look to get back to winning ways in the Premier League – North when they host a strong Everton outfit at the Moor Farm Training Centre on Saturday morning (11:30am kick-off).
The Toffees currently sit two places above the Rams in third and are just one win away from second place Liverpool. Though, Justin Walker’s side do have a game’s advantage over their upcoming opponents.
That was down to the club’s international involvements. Whilst having lost their last game in the division, the side will not have been preparing for Saturday’s encounter short of confidence. Many players in the Under-18 squad were a huge part in Derby’s monumental win over German giants Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.
The side cruised to the round-of-16 of the UEFA Youth League in style at Pride Park Stadim, bettering the side 3-1 on the day. The likes of Liam Thompson, Archie Brown and Jack Stretton started the match, whilst Eiran Cashin scored the first goal of the game, highlighting the experience and quality of Walker’s Under-18 side.
Despite their disappointing loss to Newcastle United in their last league meeting at home, the side’s form has been good, with back-to-back wins over West Bromwich Albion and Middlesbrough.
Their attacking quality has shown too, the team have scored in each of their last seven matches in all competitions.
One of those games was against Everton too in the FA Youth Cup. Coincidentally, it was again defender Cashin who scored the important goal at Pride Park. It was a different story on the opening day of the season, though, as the Rams fell victim to a 2-1 defeat on the road, meaning that this weekend’s fixture is the decider between the two sides.
Everton themselves had matters away from the league to attend to recently. They, though, were beaten in extra time of the FA Youth Cup at the hands of Reading… a team Derby had previously knocked out of a different competition earlier in the season. They regained their form soon after with a 2-1 away victory over West Brom and will head up to Derby in good spirits.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Cashin has proven time and time again this season that he can pop up in the most unlikely of circumstances to score the most important goals. Having scored in his last match and in the last meeting between the two sides, it is impossible to ignore him.
For the visitors, Lewis Dobbin is the danger man. The attacker has an impressive eight goals to his name this season and scored in their recent win over West Brom.
Words by Joseph Lightfoot