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Make home rule count, says Barr

Billy wants FA Youth Cup journey to continue against Nottingham Forest

5 February 2018

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Billy Barr believes home advantage could prove crucial, as his young charges look to progress to the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup.

Rovers' Under-18s welcome Nottingham Forest to Ewood Park on Tuesday night, with a home tie against Blackpool the prize for the winners.

After winning 1-0 away at Tranmere in round one, Rovers have played three games in succession on home soil, beating Wrexham, Stoke City and Watford to book the Forest fixture.

Barr insists that confidence is high in the Rovers camp and believes his young side have improved round by round.

"It's a great opportunity," he said. "We've been progressively better throughout the competition, but we know it's going to be a really difficult game against Forest.

"Hopefully on the night we can be as good as we've been, if not better.

"This will be the fourth game at Ewood now and over the last couple of seasons we've not been as good at Ewood, but the familiarity of four games gives us that little added bonus in a way.

"We're not dealing with nerves. They've been there and they've done it. We've just got to make sure that we follow the game plan, like we have done in every other game.

"They've gone about their work really well, they've grown in confidence and each round we've been better, through the confidence alone."

Forest booked their trip to Ewood courtesy of a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Leicester City, despite being forced to play almost 100 minutes with 10 men.

After the game finished 1-1 at the end of extra-time, Leicester squandered the chance to win it when their fifth spot-kick was saved, before Forest sealed it in sudden death. 

Barr, along with assistant coach Mike Sheron, watched the clash at the City Ground and is well aware that Forest will pose a tough test.  

"Mike and myself went to watch it and it was a really even game, to say they had a sending off after 20-odd minutes," he added.

"But from that point, they dug in, they went 1-0 down, but they didn't change, they managed to get back into it with a bit of sloppiness from Leicester and then dug deep for the rest of the 90 minutes, extra-time and ultimately penalties.

"So we're under no illusions. We know it's going to be a really hard evening and we have to be at our best.

"We'll give Forest the respect that we give everybody else and we'll do our work diligently and hopefully carry a game plan out to beat them on the night."    

Rovers will be without winger Callum Wright after the talented youngster completed a deadline day move to Leicester City.

And whilst Barr insists his absence will be a blow, he believes it provides an opportunity for another of Rovers' rising stars to step up to the plate and that the club should be proud to have developed a Premier League player.

"He will be a big miss - as a character in the dressing room more than anything," added Barr.

"But he missed the Stoke game through injury and the lads coped really well without him.

"Him going gives somebody else an opportunity and we're hoping that they can step up to the mark and show us what they're all about.

"He came to us having been released from Everton and it fitted. Blackburn Rovers fitted him and he fitted us, and it's gone really well for him and us.

"The disappointing part is that we don't get to see him play in our first team, but I'm delighted for him and there's an immense amount of pride throughout the Academy that somebody has gone on to bigger and better things already, and everybody wishes him well for the future."

Ticket prices:

Admission is £4 for adults and £2 for concessions (65+ and ages 17 and under). Season tickets are not valid for this fixture.

Kick-off at Ewood Park is at 7pm. 

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