AFC Fylde youth team take on Sunderland AFC this evening in the Second Round of the FA Youth Cup, and the young Coasters will be hoping to impress Jim Bentley, who will be in attendance.

Speaking to today, Bentley said:

“I’m excited for the lads tonight, for Conrad [Prendergast] and Chris [Ganner], who put so much time and effort into developing our academy players.  It’s a great occasion for everybody, but none more so than them.

“At that level, the FA Youth Cup is, without doubt, the biggest competition out there; it’s huge for young footballers.

“Tonight will be a great opportunity for the players to play on the main pitch, with all the first-team staff in attendance. It’s a chance for them to showcase themselves.”

To get to this stage, the Under 18’s have had to get past Stockport Town, Clitheroe, Hebburn Town and Morecambe.

Speaking about the journey so far, Bentley said: “They’ve done brilliantly to get to where they are tonight and this will be a very good test for them.

“It’s all part of their development; both as a collective unit and as an individual these experiences are invaluable. That is always the most important aspect – developing the players; improving them.

“From a football club’s perspective, it’s really positive. The way that they’ve played and the results that they’ve picked up along the way is really promising.

“Myself and the rest of the staff will be watching from the stands tonight, and I just hope that they can do themselves proud.

“Fingers crossed they can progress into the next round.”