Hull City rookies urged to 'enjoy' FA Youth Cup tie with Leicester City
HULL City under-18s will aim to leap into the club's history books tonight as they attempt to secure a place in the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 22 years.
After conquering Swansea City and Northampton Town in previous rounds, Billy Russell's rookies welcome Leicester City to North Ferriby (7pm kick-off) with a place in the last eight of the competition at stake.
Such a feat has eluded the Tigers since 1991 and Russell is urging his side to take another bold step forward.
"You've been able to see the excitement in the boys over the last week or so and maybe a wee bit of apprehension in them too," said Russell ahead of the fifth round clash.
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"That's only natural the further you get because the history of the competition makes it something special.
"They've enjoyed the last two games against Swansea and Northampton and they want more of that.
"It's a focused young group of players, but the message we've tried to relay is just to concentrate on their own game.
"Don't be worrying about your opposition."
City have shown resolve in getting this far.
After edging out Premier League Swansea 3-2 in extra-time in December, a 1-0 win at Northampton a fortnight ago ensured another test of character was passed.
Leicester, who have beaten Blackburn and Peterborough to set up tonight's clash, will provide another stiff challenge to City's ambition, but Russell knows the battles won stand his side in good stead.
"The one thing that's been apparent in both games is a willingness to dig deep for the result," he said.
"They've worked incredibly hard for each other and got the rewards for that.
"Saying that, by sticking to the game plan so tightly, they've maybe done themselves a bit of a disservice with the way they go forward.
"Our passing game hasn't been as good as we've shown in the league this season and every player needs to show more of that sort of courage.
"The courage to put your foot on the ball and do your own thing. They've got to go out there and enjoy the occasion."
Should City claim victory over the Foxes this evening it would set up a high-profile tie at the KC in the last eight.
All quarter-finals are required to be staged at the first-team's home ground and City have already been drawn to host either Leeds or the winners of tonight's fourth round clash between Liverpool and Histon.
City's youth ranks have not played at the KC since losing 2-1 to Arsenal in the 2007 FA Youth Cup fifth round and the carrot is dangling before the current crop's eyes.
Russell added: "That incentive is there for the lads. It's great for their development to play on the big stages but first things first.
"Leicester are a big strong team and we've done our homework on them.
"I'd expect it to be a different sort of challenge, a more physical challenge, but one the lads can cope with if they all stick together."