City Head of Academy Mark Allen believes that City will have to be at their very best to claim a place in the quarter-final of the FA Youth Cup at Pride Park on Tuesday night.
Chelsea await the winners of this fifth round tie between City and Derby, the team that the Blues overcame in the final of their last FA Youth Cup triumph back in 2008.
Considering most of the selection will be drawn from the City EDS team currently top of U21 Premier League National Group 2, City can be considered in form going into the game after plundering 10 goals in their opening three league games.
Head of Academy Mark Allen is relishing the prospect of testing this City side against a dangerous Rams outfit.
“We began our preparations after the u21s game on Friday night, bringing the groups together with Adam and Attilio side-by-side – the youth cup is where we join up the under-18s and under-21s and it certainly demands a focus from us," Allen said.
“We’re in a transition this year with this being the first season of these league programmes but as we always say, the player’s development is paramount in all of this – finding where their greatest challenge lies individually.
“Whether we play Derby or Chelsea, it doesn’t matter, it’s a very important game and the players know that the right attitude is required to go through.
...Mark Allen - Head of Academy...
Much of the attention will be on Iberian duo Jose Angel Pozo and Marcos Lopes, who have both scored in each round of the Youth Cup so far.
Against Sunderland in Round Three, Lopes and Pozo got themselves on the scoresheet along with Sinan Bytyqi in a 3-1 win and against Burnley in the fourth round, the pair were at it again with two spectacular solo goals in a 2-0 triumph.
Spain youth international Pozo has hit the back of the net seven times in his last six games, with the latest of his strikes arriving in last Friday’s 4-1 win over Stoke City.
Head of Academy Mark Allen acknowledges that while Marcos and Jose are having good seasons, every single one of the travelling squad will be "vitally important" if City are to progress.
"I always think it’s unfair to single out players, it’s a team game – every single person in that squad will be vitally important to us but Marcos and Jose Angel Pozo have done very well this year," Allen said.
“We’re going into a very difficult game tomorrow night against a Derby team with nothing to lose and everything to gain, so unless we’re at our very best we could come away not winning that game.
“A home tie is very advantageous if we go through but as I’ve said, it’s one step at a time in this competition and we have to deal with the challenge of Derby before we even think about the quarter-finals.
...Mark Allen, Head of Academy...
George Evans is likely to return in midfield, while Kean Bryan, Jack Byrne and Bersant Celina could be in line to make the squad as they did against Burnley in the fourth round.
Seasoncard holders are able to attend the game for free, while it will cost £3 for non-seasoncard holding adults and £2 for children.
Kick-off at Pride Park is at 7pm.