BURNLEY’S development squad coach Andy Farrell has urged his side to give it everything they have got in tonight’s Under 21 Premier League Cup semi-final with Manchester City.
The Clarets earned their place in the last four of the competition with a 3-2 extra time win at Exeter last month, having previously beaten Bolton, Sunderland and Wigan on their long run in this inaugural competition.
Many of the players have experienced the big occasion, with a number involved in their run to the FA Youth Cup semi finals two seasons ago, including Alex Coleman, Steven Hewitt and Luke Gallagher.
Most played in the memorable FA Youth Cup win at Old Trafford last season, where Jason Gilchrist scored a hat-trick.
They went on to face the blue half of Manchester at the Etihad Stadium.
Beaten 2-0, it’s where their run in the competition ended.
Farrell admits they are all disappointed not to be returning to the same venue tonight – with City instead opting to play at the Leigh Sports Village (7pm).
But the Clarets coach said it should not detract from the importance of the game.
“The lads are buzzing. It’s nice at this stage of the season to be involved in something still because most of their (development squad) games are friendlies,” said Farrell, who moved into the role from youth team coach earlier this season following Simon Weatherstone’s departure.
“This is a big competition with big clubs involved and this will be another good challenge for them.
“Manchester City are probably the benchmark and they are a strong group, with one or two familiar faces from the FA Youth Cup game last season.
“But the fact that we’ve played in these big games before tells you a lot about the group we’ve got.
“We’re going to enjoy it. There will be a few nerves but I’ve just told them to have a really good go at it, and don’t come off the pitch with any regrets. Just give it your best.”
Burnley will be without Archie Love, who is sidelined with an ankle knock, but otherwise expect to be at full strength.
“Hopefully Archie will get himself right for whatever else comes our way this season,” said Farrell, who first coached most of the squad when they were just 16 years old and admits he is enjoying his new role.
“I’m loving it,” he continued. “I worked hard with them before with Pash (Terry Pashley) and I’ve got a good group of lads – not just in terms of football but they've got good attitudes and apply themselves.”
The winners will face Reading in the final after the Royals overcame Arsenal in their last four tie. The final is a two-legged affair.