ED SANDERS says that the whole Under-18 squad are looking forward to facing Derby County in the FA Youth Cup Fourth Round tonight.
The young Potters travel to the iPro Stadium (7pm kick-off) hoping they can make further progress in the competition after beating Leyton Orient in a penalty shootout in the previous round.
City’s captain revealed to stokecityfc.com that playing in the tournament is something which is extremely special to the team.
“It means a lot to us because as Under-18 players it is the biggest cup competition we can play in so it’s a major focal point of our season,” Sanders said.
“The league is continually going on but this is a one off game that you look to do well in and be in the spotlight in front of a big audience and stadium.
“This is a massive match and one that we have been looking forward to for a while now and want to try and get through to the next round.”
Stoke face the Rams after the East Midlands outfit overcame Wigan Athletic in a 4-3 thriller in December and although Sanders says he doesn’t know too much about the opposition, the 18-year-old defender believes that the Potters will face a strong team.
“I know a little bit about Derby and heard a few bit and pieces about them but we haven’t watched them too much, however every side that makes it to the fourth round is going to be of a good standard,” he said.
“Derby are in a different league to us so we don’t know them that well but both sides will be different to what they normally are because players will be dropping down.
“Sides tend to change a lot for the FA Youth Cup because players from the first team and Under-21 squads come back into the fold because it is such a massive tournament that everyone wants to do well in.
“Hopefully we can put in a good performance, get the result we desire and progress further in the tournament.
For many of the squad it will be one of the biggest stadiums they have played at and Sanders says it will only prove as inspiration to want to experience playing in such arenas as senior players in the future.
“It’ll be the biggest stadium that I will have played at and that will probably be the case for the vast majority of the lads.
“It will be a difficult atmosphere for us to deal with but occasions like these are what you want to be involved with.
“It’s a great experience to go through and will help us to push on to what we hope to achieve in our future careers in the game.”