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FAYC preview: Rovers Under-18s v Preston North End Under-18s

A look ahead to tonight's big FA Youth Cup tie at Ewood Park against the Lilywhites

18 February 2020

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A place in the quarter-finals stage of the FA Youth Cup is at stake as Rovers Under-18s welcome Preston North End to Ewood Park for tonight's East Lancashire derby.

Rovers comfortably beat Newport County in round three on home turf before edging out Charlton Athletic to reach this stage of the coveted competition.

Another night under the lights awaits this evening when PNE make the short trip to Ewood having triumphed over Oxford United in the last round at Deepdale, and knocking out Bristol City in round three.

The winners of tonight's tie will host Arsenal, and Rovers Under-18s boss Mike Sheron says he may have a selection dilemma for the contest.

“We’ve had four or five lads injured for most of the season, which has been disappointing," he admitted.

“One or two of those lads would definitely have been considered to play in our FA Youth Cup side.

“But that’s created an opportunity for other people and other people have come in and done particularly well.

“We’ll probably add one or two Under-16s to the squad as well, which we hope will improve us, so it’s about providing opportunities for people and they’ve got to try and take it.”

Jordan Eastham is likely to keep his place in goal having featured in the two earlier round, whilst Dan Pike, who has impressed in his outings in the Under-23s this term, is expected to remain at right back.

Further forward, Sheron must decide whether to keep faith with Brandon Lonsdale in attack, with Chanka Zimba also an option to play up front.

Having scored goals in each of the last two rounds, Sam Burns will be hoping that lightning strikes a third time, especially after scoring the winner against Charlton.

As for the opposition, speaking ahead of the game, North End youth chief Andy Fensome admits it's a tie he's looking forward to.

"They are Category One and they’ve always produced some good players," he admitted to the official Preston North End website.

“It’s a really tough test for the players and hopefully they know what to expect. We’ve given them some information over the last few days and it’s important that they go and put it into practice.

“We’ve played against their U17s earlier on in the season but we don’t necessarily get to play the categories that they’re in. They obviously play against good teams week in week out.

“It’s an opportunity for the boys to go and play a game somewhere different, under lights, and it’s a good stadium to go and play at and a good opportunity.

“It’s always nice for the lads to have obviously their families there but the more spectators that get there to get to see them is good for them.”

Kick-off at Ewood Park is at 7pm tonight. All supporters are welcome. Admission is £4 for adults and £2 for concessions. Cash only at the turnstiles.

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