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Johnson looks forward to Leicester cup clash

17 January 2016

Rovers will look to complete a cup double over Leicester City when the two teams meet on Monday in the last 16 of the Under-21 Premier League Cup.

Damien Johnson’s side will hope to follow in the footsteps of Rovers’ Under-18s, who defeated the Foxes 3-2 after extra-time in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup last Monday night.

Several members of the successful Youth Cup side are expected to line-up for the Under-21s and Johnson admits that everyone is looking forward to what he believes will be a very tough tie.

“All the boys are looking forward to the game,” said Johnson. “It was due to be played last week, but it was rearranged, so we’ve had a week without a game and they always seem long weeks when you’re just training, so we’ve got something to look forward to now.

“They’re a Premier League outfit, so we’ll be up against it. I know their manager, Steve Beaglehole, and I know how he likes his sides to play, so they’ll be well organised and hard working, and they’ve got some talent as well, so it will be a real test for us, but one that we’re looking forward to.

“The Under-18 lads did really well to get through the other night and that’s what cup competitions are all about - learning how to win games and getting through to the next round. It was good to see them in that type of setting, playing in a stadium and under that kind of pressure.

“We often talk about results not being the most important thing at this level, but in a cup competition you want to win and progress, so it’s a different part of their learning and it’s good for their development.”

Rovers reached the final of the Under-21 Premier League Cup last season, eventually losing out to Southampton over two legs, and Johnson hopes his young side can enjoy similar success in the competition this term.

“It was a great achievement and they all enjoyed the experience, so the challenge is to see how far we can progress again,” added the former Rovers and Northern Ireland international midfielder.

“We’ve a tough game on Monday against Leicester, who will come with a good side, so we’ll just focus on this one and hopefully get ourselves into the hat for the next round.

“On our day, we know that if we apply ourselves right, we can cause teams problems, so we’ll be looking for the guys to reach their levels and perform to the best of their ability.

“With the younger players doing so well as well, there’s good competition for places and we’ve got a good size squad now, so the guys who get an opportunity have to take it and that’s the way it should be.

“Training has been good, hopefully we’ll have a good couple of days in the build-up to it and we’ll be ready to go on Monday.”

Kick-off against Leicester City is at 12.30pm at the Academy on Monday. As a result, Rovers’ Under-21 Premier League match away to Derby County, which was scheduled for the same day, will now be played on Monday February 15th, kick-off 1pm.

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