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Leicester will be tough opponents

10 January 2016

Rovers' Under-18s resume their cup campaign on Monday night when they take on Leicester City in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup.

After squeezing past Southend United in their opening round just before Christmas, tomorrow's match against the Foxes is their first of 2016.

Assistant Under-18s coach Ian Jones is expecting another good test, and hopes for an improved showing at Leigh Sports Village - kick-off 7.00pm.

"It will be a really tough test for us as they have done well in their league," said Jones.

"They are in a similar position to us in terms of how they've done, they started off really strongly, drifted away a little bit, but are coming back again strong.

"They have quite a few international players, England international players as well, so it will be really, really tough test against them."

It took a second half penalty from Willem Tomlinson to overcome Southend United in round three, with Jones admitting the side were far from their best last time out.

"Getting through the first round is always really difficult in the FA Youth Cup because you've got all the nerves and the anxiety, plus the game was at Ewood Park," he added.

"Against Southend I don't think we took them for granted or underestimated them, I just think the occasion got to us with the importance of the match.

"So I think for some of the lads it was a little too much, there was a lot of people watching, all their friends and family, and they really wanted to do well and sometimes it doesn't create a great response from the players in terms of how they feel.

"Hopefully they've got over that now, got it out of their system now and we can progress through.

"Playing at Leigh, where some of the lads are comfortable in those surroundings, that might just give us a little bit of an advantage, or make them feel a little bit more confident playing in that environment.

"Some of the performances we have had this season have been really, really good. Some not so good but we managed to get the results."

Rovers are expected to name a similar squad to the one that beat the Shrimpers, but defender Josh Askew misses out through suspension after his sending off in the tie.

Development squad regulars Tomlinson, Ryan Nyambe and Lewis Mansell are all likely to start, as well as defender Scott Wharton who travelled with Paul Lambert's first team for the postponed cup-tie at Newport.

But whilst it is great for Jones that they are able to include more experienced players, both he and lead coach Billy Barr haven't had too many opportunities to work with them as a group.

"The beauty of the FA Youth Cup is you get all Under-18 players available for that one game which is brilliant," he continued.

"But the down side of that is they don't always play together. They play for the Under-21s, they can train with the first team. It is almost a group of lads that get thrown together. We see them a day or two days before a game and then we won't see them until hopefully the next round. Which is the right way to do it.

"Playing Leicester will be something different in a sense that they are comparable, they play at the same Academy category as us.

"Their first team are second in the Premier League, so we are the underdog this time and maybe we can relax a little more going into the game.

"It is the best youth competition in the world so it is massively important that they do well in it."

The winners of tomorrow's tie will play Aston Villa away in the next round.

Rovers season ticket holders can gain free entry on Monday night on production of their season ticket card at the Leigh Sports Village Ticket Office. General admission prices are £4 for adults and £2 for concessions (over-65s and under-17s).

Tickets can be bought in advance at the stadium, over the phone on 01942 487888 or online via http://leighsportsvillage.advancedticketing.co.uk/en/all.html.

Supporters can also purchase tickets on the night from the Leigh Ticket Office from 5pm-7.30pm.

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