Wayne Rooney has made it clear that Derby County are taking the Emirates FA Cup seriously ahead of their Third Round tie at Coventry City on Saturday.
Derby will make the short journey across the Midlands to face their Championship rivals at the Coventry Building Society Arena (12:30pm kick-off) to begin their involvement in this year’s competition.
The cup clash will be the Rams’ second trip to Coventry inside a couple of months after playing out a 1-1 draw against Mark Robins’ side back in October, courtesy of Graeme Shinnie’s second-half strike.
The tie offers the Rams a brief respite from their Championship survival bid, after being deducted 21 points for entering administration and a historical breach of profitability and sustainability rules, and they are approaching the clash with the Sky Blues in the same manner as any other fixture.
Derby are unbeaten in their last four outings, winning three and drawing one, and Rooney wants his players to keep the momentum they’ve built up on their side.
“We will be approaching this game in the same way as we approach any other,” Rooney told RamsTV. “The FA Cup is a competition which I absolutely love. I loved playing in it, I loved watching as a fan when I was a kid and I know what this means to the fans and try to go on a cup run.
“We won’t be taking it lightly, there will be a couple of changes but it will be a similar team to the one that has featured recently.
“I’ve got a good group of players here and they want to play. I want them to play and I want to go on a cup run.
“It’s my first game as a manager in the FA Cup because last year we got forced to play our Under-18s at Chorley after we had a number of COVID-19 cases, so we want to win the tie and go on a cup run.”
He added: “We want to try and get through this tie, try and win it and ideally get a good draw against one of the top teams and challenge ourselves that way.”
Rooney’s memories of the FA Cup as a child are fond, after he made the journey to Wembley Stadium to see Everton defeat Manchester United back in 1995.
Paul Rideout scored the only goal of the game as the Toffees recorded a famous victory.
Rooney was also an FA Cup winner in the latter years of his playing career, in 2016, and as captain he proudly lifted the trophy as Manchester United defeated Crystal Palace 2-1.
After enjoying success in the competition as a fan and a player, he now wants to make more memories as a manager.
“I remember, in 1995, going to watch Everton beat Manchester United in the FA Cup Final and I was lucky enough to captain Manchester United and lift the trophy - so there is no way I will take this cup lightly,” he said.
“I know about the magic of the FA Cup and what it can bring and it would be naïve of me to take it lightly and not go on a cup run and try to get to Wembley.
“I know that’s a long way off, but we can all have dreams and the only way to do that is put everything into it.”