Academy Manager Richard Stevens on tonight's fixture and the 2015/16 run in the FA Youth Cup...
After a remarkable campaign last term, in which City’s young charges narrowly fell to Premier League side Arsenal on penalties, FA Youth Cup action makes a return this evening!
The Sky Blues U18s face Nottingham based Dunkirk FC in the first round, with a potential R2 tie against League Two outfit Mansfield Town, should City progress.
Rich Stevens said: “We had a really good run in the competition last season which ended at the Ricoh, so it’s great for it to be returning.
“It is the one competition at this level you look at the calendar and eagerly anticipate the draw. The boys really enjoyed last season, but it’s a new set of lads now and their turn to create something similar.
“Every game in the Youth Cup brings its different challenges, and we’re not taking it for granted. We’ll approach it like any other because they will pose a tough challenge tonight.”
Last year's competition captured the hearts of Coventarians, with over 1,000 locals turning out at the Ricoh to watch the U18s heroic comeback against Arsenal in the fifth round.
The Sky Blues lost out in the consequent penalty shootout, but demonstrated a great deal of strength and resolve to hold their own against one of Europe's most highly thought of Academy setups.
“For the First Years it will be the first time they’ve played in a game where there will be an ultimate outcome at the end of it, and there will be a few of them in the starting line-up," Rich added.
“That’s why the competition is so important to us because you get to see a different type of mentality and the pressure that comes along with the tie."
Two players likely to feature are 18-year old pairing Jordan Ponticelli and Tom Bayliss. Both have had exposure to the U23s side of late, with Bayliss providing the assist for a George Thomas goal last week.
“Both Jordan and Tom have done very well so far this season," Rich continued. "Jordan came in at the beginning and has been scoring plenty of goals, and Tom has been a real presence in midfield for us.
“The real positive this season is the U23 squad is very strong, so you have to earn the right to progress through the ranks!"