Neil Ryan.

United ready for next Youth Cup test

Manchester United face Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Youth Cup fourth round at Leigh Sports Village tonight (Monday), with the 19:00 GMT kick-off live on MUTV.

Neil Ryan’s youngsters knocked holders Chelsea out in the previous round, thanks to a thrilling 4-3 triumph, but are wary of the challenge posed by the Seagulls, who compete in a different division given their southern location and overcame West Ham United at the first hurdle.

The home side will hope to have virtually a full squad to select from and performed well in a first outing after the winter break, when beating Stoke City 4-1 at Clayton Wood last week.

The competition has always been hugely important for the club, with United still the record winners of the trophy with 10 (one clear of Chelsea with nine), but there is hope the boys can impress, despite the pressure and spotlight.

United celebrate a goal against Stoke.
United enjoyed a fine win against Stoke City last week.

“It was an exciting game against Chelsea for people watching it on the sidelines but I don’t know about myself!” laughed head coach Ryan. “It was a really good night and a lot has been said about that but we need to forget that and move on to get the next challenge in front of them, and hit that head on. The next challenge is the FA Youth Cup against Brighton and it’s a really difficult game for us. We have to be prepared and be ready for them.

”I mean we’re a big club and beating Chelsea was a fantastic night and a great result for us but we should be expected, as a club, to beat these teams and clubs when we play them. Most of the teams who play against us have us as strong favourites so we have to handle that pressure and thrive in that environment.

Neil went on: “Obviously, there is a little bit of added interest from around the club and the media and so on. For the boys, they’re special nights. The history of the FA Youth Cup is very important.

”You know when the games come, we’ll prepare right and make sure the boys are focused and have some preparation days and so on. But you prepare for every game regardless who the opposition is and which cup it is as you need to be focused and ready to go.”

U18s highlights: Stoke City 1 United 4 Video

Although the draw has already been made for round five, with United or Brighton travelling to Everton, nobody from either camp will be looking that far ahead. With a Premier League Cup quarter-final away to Liverpool on the horizon, it is a spell to approach in an enthusiastic manner and one that will see the whole squad utilised.

“We can watch some videos of the opposition and the opponents get to watch videos of us,” added Ryan. “But you have to prepare yourselves right and get your own house in order. We get a bit of information on how the opposition is going to play but it doesn’t always work out like that and it could be a different starting line-up or different system. We’ll just respect Brighton and make sure there is no complacency within our camp.

Mason Greenwood scores against Chelsea.
Mason Greenwood scored a hat-trick against Chelsea in the previous round.

“There are a couple of injuries still in the group but they’re coming back and we’re looking quite strong and fit. Touch wood, everyone will be okay and we’ll have a couple of players to come back. There's great competition for places in the group and we have a lot of games coming our way. It’s what we want for the boys – to have these exciting cup and league games and it’s an exciting period of time for them.”

The match against Brighton is being shown live on MUTV, with build-up starting at 18:30 GMT this evening (Monday). 

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