Mikele Leigertwood spoke of his excitement ahead of Reading's Under-18s taking on Crystal Palace in the FA Youth Cup at Madejski Stadium on Thursday night.
The former Royal coaches our youth side alongside Michael Donaldson, and the pair have been busy in training this week getting the squad geared up for a night under the lights in RG2, in the prestigious knockout tournament.
The Royals' U18s have already progressed well in one competition this season, overcoming three-goal deficits twice in the group stages of the U18 Premier League Cup, earning a Quarter-Final tie against Everton to be played in January.
Leigertwood and Donaldson's side came from two goals down to beat Tottenham at the weekend in the U18 Premier League South, but an entirely different test awaits against Palace on Thursday evening.
“It’s always a nice distraction from the league, this is something different for some of them," said the former Reading midfielder. "Some may have experienced this with the Under-23s, but all the big hype around the FA Youth Cup is something which the boys are all looking forward to, of course.
“It comes to that point where everyone wants to play in it - the tempo increases and so does their attention.
“We want competition for places of course, so hopefully the boys will be right up for it come the night.
“We’ve been involved in cup competition this season and the boys have done well – coming back from three behind in a couple of games and showing good character and spirit to come back. We’re going to need those characteristics, certainly, from everyone involved.
“It’s a must-win game for us to progress. We certainly had a bad taste left in our mouths from last season, playing at Villa away. So, this is an opportunity now for us to really show what we’re about.
“We’ve got some good talent coming through, so hopefully it will look good for us. I’m looking forward to it – I had some good times at Madejski Stadium as a player, so being on the sidelines trying to get a team to win a game is going to be a great experience for myself and Michael [Donaldson].
“Michael’s been great. He’s come in and made a fantastic impact, we’ve certainly built a good relationship together, working alongside the other Under-18 staff, it’s been a good mix and balance and we work well with each other.
“We’re looking forward for helping that relationship grow and helping the players develop.
“Palace are going to be right up for it. They’ve got good history of bringing players through and a good Academy set-up, so we’ll look forward to the task in hand.
“It’ll be great support for the boys if we can get some fans there, to come and see what the future holds for us.
“They’ll be able to see what the next generation brings, and hopefully it offers some exciting football and it’ll be a great experience for them.”
Tickets cost just £3 for Adults to watch the young Royals on Thursday night, and £1 for Concessions. Parking will be free and unreserved on the night - and we would love to see as many of you as possible at Madejski Stadium to watch the next generation of Royals.