Any footballer will agree - these are the games you relish.
Sunderland are just two wins from Wembley and cup fever has taken over the city.
Should Jack Ross’ side dispatch the mighty Manchester City Under-21s, they will be in within touching distance of devouring cheesy chips on Wembley Way.
It’s a tie that has engrossed the footballing world - and one that has enraged Pep Guardiola so much that he might have to play Phil Foden in a Carabao Cup game.
Jack Ross Says...
I think we have managed to strike a balance between where the fixture [Tuesday’s game] has fallen and the other games we’ve had around it, getting players game-time and treating it properly as well.
My message has been consistent with the players (on) how we view the competition, but I think from their perspective knowing that they’re now close to reaching the final and us playing at Wembley hopefully should raise the excitement levels as well.
And also we don’t want to have worked as hard as we have done - I think it’s five games now that we’ve played in the competition - so, it’s quite a lot of games that you have to play to get to the final, so we’re now at way past the halfway point of winning those games so naturally we want to make sure that we win the next two and get to the final.
Ethan Robson is expected to make his comeback against Manchester City Under-21s on Tuesday night. The Sunderland academy product has been out of action since injuring his ankle against Carlisle United in October and Jack Ross is hoping he will be able to play a part in the Checkatrade Trophy quarter-final.
Ross is once again planning to rotate the squad but he will be without Bali Mumba as the midfielder is serving a suspension. Mumba’s absence could mean Robson partners Dylan McGeouch in midfield. The Scot was somewhat unfortunate to be dropped for the trip to Scunthorpe United after putting in one of his best performances as a Sunderland player against Luton Town.
Both Bryan Oviedo and Alim Ozturk are expected to feature against Man City but the game will probably come too early for full back Denver Hume. The 20-year-old hasn’t played after hobbling off against Coventry City in September but Ross confirmed that he has returned to full training during the week.
There are also question marks as to who Ross favours for his forward line in Tuesday’s game. Josh Maja is expected to be rested, so Charlie Wyke and Duncan Watmore could continue their Checkatrade Trophy partnership while youngster Benji Kimpioka will most likely play a part.
View from the Away dressing room...
Not content with receiving special dispensation from the EFL which allowed for all of their Checkatrade Trophy ties to be played away from home, the top brass at Manchester City felt the need to direct more ire at the scheduling of this fixture.
Pep Guardiola’s plan to blood a number of youngsters has been left in tatters by the under-21 side’s progression into the quarter-finals of this competition. You see, the second leg of City’s Carabao Cup tie against Burton Albion, which they lead 9-0, was Pep’s big plan to invest in youth and play a second string side.
This has been completely ruined now that the under-21 side have to play a fixture they knew had to play anyway. Why Guardiola has waited for this game to finally decide he’s going to play some youngsters is anyone’s guess. Even City’s golden boy Phil Foden had to settle for a place on the bench against Burton, you know, just in case they only scored three before half time.
City are said to be “furious” at this fixture pile-up which is odd considering it didn’t seem to bother Guardiola earlier in the season when the under-21s won 4-1 at Crewe in the Checkatrade and the first-team beat Oxford United 3-0 in the League Cup on the same night.
The amount of academy graduates in City’s team that night? Three. Foden, Arijanet Murić and Brahim Diaz, who recently left for Real Madrid.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s win over Huddersfield, Guardiola said:
After that, we will think about the cup but the first team is the most important team.
If the first team demands something, the club is always ready [to provide it].
We are going to use a few players from the second team for the semi-final of the Carabao Cup. I don’t know how many but most of the players need rest and unfortunately they cannot play in both games.
One game is Tuesday, one Wednesday. They cannot play both.
They have achieved something good, we demand young players play in adult games but the schedule is the schedule. The federation and there are just 365 days in the year. So we have to adapt.
Where Can I Watch The Game?
Tickets will be available to purchase from the ticket office from 9am on Tuesday while cash turnstiles will be in operations from 6.30pm. Entry is priced at £10 for adults and £5 for under-16s and over-65s.
The game will be streamed on SAFC.com, with match passes £10 for UK-based supporters and £5.99 for those overseas. There will also be live commentary on BBC Newcastle with Nick Barnes and Gary Bennett, and we’ll be doing live Twitter over on our Twitter page.