Joe Rafferty says he and his team-mates are looking forward to testing themselves against a Premier League side on Wednesday evening as PNE face Brighton and Hove Albion in the Carabao Cup.
North End made it to the third round after defeating Derby County last Tuesday, whereas Graham Potter’s side progressed with a thumping 4-0 victory over Portsmouth.
Speaking about Brighton, Raff told iFollow PNE: “I’ve watched them a few times and they play really good football. The manager’s got them playing really good stuff, even last year in the Prem they did quite well and then I watched them against Portsmouth on Thursday and they were really good.
“That was a changed side as well, but you know when the bigger teams like that change their sides they’ve still got a lot of quality players in the squad, so even though they changed the full 11 really they’ve still got a quality squad, so it’ll be a really tough game but we’re looking forward to it.
“I reckon they’ll probably play a similar team to that [Portsmouth] one, especially with them playing yesterday and I think they’ve got Manchester United on the weekend so it will probably be a similar team, but as I say it’s a strong team.
“They’ve got some brilliant players in there and it’s probably good they were on the TV the other day so we could all have a good look at them, to kind of keep one eye on that game as well so we’ll just go into it, do our best and we want to get through to the next round and hopefully play Luton or United here so hopefully we’ll get a win.”
As Joe alluded to, the draw for the fourth round has already been made, so both sides go into this tie knowing that the winners will earn themselves a home fixture against either Luton Town or Manchester United.
Traditionally draws are made after all the fixtures in one round have taken place, but due to the condensed schedule this season, both the third and fourth round draw were made on the same day.
Raff commented: “It’s a bit unusual; they haven’t really done it like that in the past but I quite enjoy it. I like looking at who you can get if you win. It can kind of be a good thing for us to give us some motivation.
“If we play against Luton you’re thinking it’s a team in the same division, you’ve got a good chance of getting through to the next round as they’ll probably think the same, and then if you play United you’re thinking we’ve got a chance to test ourselves against one of the best teams in England, so either way I think it’s a good thing you know who you play the next round.”
Alex Neil’s side head into the Brighton game on the back of a 2-2 draw away at Norwich City in the Championship, a match which saw the return of a limited number of home supporters for the first time at a PNE game since March.
“I think it was quite good; all the lads are the same, we all want the fans back. It was quite good, just a little bit of atmosphere during the game, whether it’s good or bad really, it’s a little bit of noise.
“When the only thing you can hear is the managers it’s sometimes good having a little bit of noise inside the stadium. I know I was taking a few corners on that side and getting a bit of stick and it’s enjoyable really, I quite enjoy it.
“I think Fish [Darnell Fisher] was as well, I think that’s why he went over to them after the goal but it’s all part of the game and it’s quite enjoyable.”
Watch Joe Rafferty’s full interview with iFollow PNE via the video at the top of the page.