North End U18s boss Nick Harrison believes tonight’s game away to Exeter City at St James' Park will be a terrific experience for his youngsters.
“We’re looking to win the game because that’s what the cup competition’s all about,” said Harrison who signalled his intent to the Club website yesterday evening.
“But with every game, we’re looking for performances as well. Individual and team performances as much as anything – we certainly want both and that’s hopefully what we’re going to get.
“The boys have had a good break over Christmas – we have lads growing physically and mentally so the break was certainly what they needed, and they’ve come back looking sharp and strong.
“We’ve done a little mini pre-season with them – we’ve pushed them with some 11 v 11 games that we’ve organised, but the last few days has been all about preparing for the Exeter game.”
It’s Preston’s second FA Youth Cup match of the season having seen Carlisle off 2-1 in the last round thanks to an extra-time winner from Josh Earl.
Exeter themselves defeated Bolton Wanderers in the last round with a thrilling 4-3 win, giving Harrison and co an idea of what to expect from the Grecians this evening.
He added: “They obviously did very well to beat Bolton in the last round – they’ve got good players who want to pass the ball and they’re really good at scoring goals, but as we saw from the footage of the Bolton game, they can also concede.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game – conditions aren’t going to be great in terms of the surface of the pitch. We saw that when the first-team played Liverpool the other night so it’s not going to be easy but it’s going to be one that we look forward to.”
Tonight’s cup clash will be an experience in more ways than one for the squad with the lads making the 264 mile trip to Devon yesterday afternoon, and the coach has been impressed with the teams professionalism going into the match.
"Football is all about development and developing players for the first-team level so this is a great experience for them,” continued Harrison.
“They’ve travelled down on the coach and they’ve stayed in a hotel overnight - they’ve been looking after themselves in terms of what they eat and when they sleep whilst away and preparing themselves as best as possible for the evening kick-off.
“It’s definitely something new for the players but we’ve got a very good group of young lads who’ve got the right attitude, and they’re professional in their approach to the game so it’s something that they should embrace and hopefully put a good performance in on the night.”
Harrison has a full squad to choose from for the game this evening and you can keep track of every ball kicked with live audio commentary courtesy of PNE PlayerHD, and updates on Twitter through '@pnefcacademy'.