Derby County Under-18s will look to build on last week’s emphatic victory over Everton as they travel north to face Manchester United away from home in the Under-18 Premier League - North on Saturday (12pm kick-off).
The Rams have the opportunity to go fourth in the table with a win at the weekend but they are up against a side who have won each of their last four matches in all competitions. The Red Devils sit in eighth place, but an upturn in their recent form has seen them close the gap on the teams above them with a couple of games in hand.
Justin Walker’s side have also enjoyed a great run of results where they have been victorious in four of their last five matches in the league and in Europe. This has seen them not only maintain strong progress in the league but also secure a place in the last 16 of the UEFA Youth League following their historic 3-1 win against Borussia Dortmund last week.
That was followed up by an even more convincing performance in the league as they dominated Everton in a 4-1 win at Moor Farm Training Centre just four days after their European triumph.
Like in those games, Derby showed their ruthlessness in their last meeting with Manchester United as a brace each for Bartosz Cybulski and Archie Brown as well as a Jack Stretton goal saw them run out 5-0 winners at home.
It was FA Youth Cup action last time out for Saturday’s hosts and they made sure of a place in the quarter-final with a narrow victory over Leeds United. Their progress in the cup has been a welcome distraction from the league where they have struggled this season with just two wins in their last six league fixtures.
Both sides will be desperate for three points at the weekend as they look to maintain their winning habits ahead of huge clashes in their respective cup competitions.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Alex Matthews has become a regular in the Derby midfield of late and his calming influence in the middle of the park has played a big part in his side’s great form. He is still chasing his first goal of the season and with him becoming more of a staple in the team, it is only a matter of time before he finds the back of the net.
For United, Dillion Hoogerwerf has been in fine form and he will be the man to keep an eye out for on Saturday as the former Ajax striker has scored three of his side’s last six goals.
Words by Ed Mackey