KEVIN Sheedy has warned his Everton Under-18 players they must be at their best to progress in the FA Youth Cup tonight.
The Blues have to beat Port Vale in their fourth round clash at Vale Park this evening in order to clinch a showdown with either Arsenal or Fulham in the capital in the next stage of the competition.
Sheedy’s youngsters produced an impressive performance to beat Southampton 2-0 in the third round in another away match, and he will tell them more of the same is the only way to stay in the cup.
“It's going to be a difficult test for us,” said the academy coach.
“We will have them watched and learn their strengths and weaknesses.
“At Southampton we saw confidence and belief and it was a stiff test which our lads overcame with flying colours.
“We will need the same effort and commitment for this game.
“We’ve watched them and they beat a very good Crystal Palace side away in the last round. We certainly won’t be underestimating them – it will be a really difficult test.”
Port Vale play their league football in the Youth Alliance North West group, which consists of 16 teams. After 13 matches they are placed 10th in the table, 15 points behind leaders Preston North End.
Everton last won the competition in 1997/98. Members of that successful squad included Richard Dunne, Michael Ball, Phil Jevons and Danny Cadamarteri. The game kicks off at 7.30pm.
Meanwhile, academy midfielder George Green, who signed his first professional deal with the Blues earlier this month, has been named in the England Under-17 squad for next month's Algarve Tournament in Portugal.
The tournament takes place between Friday 8 and Tuesday 12 February, with the Young Lions set to face the Netherlands, Germany and hosts Portugal.
The games will serve as ideal preparation for the Elite Round qualifiers in March, with England aiming to book their place at this summer’s European Championship finals.