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Farrell Relishing City Cup Challenge

1 April 2014

Andy Farrell is convinced his side will deal with the pressure of a big occasion when they take on Manchester City in the U21 Premier League Cup semi-final tonight (7pm KO).

The Burnley Development Squad travel to the Leigh Sports Village, with Reading awaiting the winners in the final of the inaugural competition.

The young Clarets have already knocked out Wigan Athletic, Crewe Alexandra, Sunderland, Bolton Wanderers and Exeter City on the road to the penultimate stage of the Cup.

And despite high stakes, the Burnley under-21 team manager has no doubts that his players will have no problem with handling the game’s magnitude.

Farrell said: “A lot of them played in the [FA Youth Cup] semi-final against Blackburn [in 2012] and in other big games.

“I can’t see it being a problem as we’ve got a few steady heads and good organisers in the team. [For example,] Alex Coleman is really good and level-headed, as are the staff.

“Hopefully, they’ll react in the same way as before and we won’t have any problems in those terms.”

Farrell has also shrugged off suggestions that his side have exceeded expectations by progressing so far in the competition, eliminating teams from higher-ranked Academies along the way.

He added: “I’m looking at the group of players which got to the semi in the FA Youth Cup. It probably tells that they’re a good one, really.

“When they’re all fit and we’ve got everybody out on the pitch, we’re as good as any of the teams that we come across.

“There’s a good standard [in this competition]. The matches have been all against good Academies and under-21 teams that probably had the odd first-team player, like Lee Cattermole in the game at Turf Moor [against Sunderland].

“There have been some tough challenges that we’ve come through really well.”

The Manchester City Elite Development Squad is managed by former Arsenal captain and France World Cup-winning midfielder Patrick Vieira.

The Blues have overcome Stoke and West Brom before coming from two goals behind in their quarter-final tie against Newcastle to advance to this stage of the competition.

And Farrell is expecting the Citizens to prove Burnley’s toughest opposition this season – a challenge and a potential prize at the end of which his team relish.

He said: “I would say they will be the toughest opposition. I think City will be very good. You can only really look at the money that goes into the football club, where they get players from and what they spend on them.

“This is going to be a big challenge for the boys and I think it will be a tough test, but it’s a challenge that we’re all up for and capable of doing well in.

“The focus is on what we’re trying to achieve. We’re just looking at the game tomorrow night, getting the team sorted and hopefully achieving a result and having something else to play for.”

Acting U21 team manager Farrell confirmed that Kyle Brownhill will miss the game with a calf problem picked up during the quarter-final tie against Exeter City.

Meanwhile, Archie Love is doubtful due to an ankle knock suffered in recent match away at Leeds United.

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