Dom Solanke is urging the AFC Bournemouth young guns to take confidence and belief into their eagerly-awaited FA Youth Cup clash with Manchester City.
Striker Solanke, who joined the Cherries from Liverpool last month, has two FA Youth Cup winner’s medals – and scored three times in two finals for Chelsea.
Alan Connell’s class of 2019 booked a place in the sixth round for only the second time in the club’s history when they knocked out Aston Villa earlier this month.
It set up a mouth-watering quarter-final with two-time winners Manchester City which will be staged at Vitality Stadium on Tuesday 26th February (7pm kick-off).
Solanke netted against City in Chelsea’s win in the 2015 final and notched a double in their enthralling 7-6 aggregate victory over Fulham in the 2014 showpiece.
“That was one of the best moments of my youth career,” said Solanke in an interview with afcb.co.uk.
“I loved watching the FA Youth Cup when I was growing up. I always used to watch the older boys and when it came round to my age group playing, I was really excited. We had a really good group of players and to win it two years in a row was great.
“There is always a bit more pressure on when it’s a knockout competition and it’s a good experience for you to get a feel for these games when you are young. They are exciting games to be involved in.
“The first final I played in against Fulham was probably the most memorable. There were a lot of goals and I managed to get the winner in the last 10 minutes so the game really stood out for me.
“It’s a great achievement for our lads to have reached the sixth round. These are important games and you could say it’s almost where your career can start.
“Everyone watches them and you are performing on the main stage in youth football. If you do well, it can set you up.
“Our lads should go into the Manchester City game with their heads held high. They have come this far because of how well they have played so they have to be as confident as they can and believe they can win.”
Prolific striker Jake Scrimshaw has netted six times in the competition as the Cherries have seen off Mansfield Town (2-1), Oxford United (3-0) and Aston Villa (2-0).
Manchester City, winners in 1986 and 2008, booked their place in the last eight after triumphing over Clevedon Town (4-0), Nottingham Forest (4-1) and Derby (2-1).
The Cherries last reached the sixth round in 1969, exiting the competition at the hands of eventual winners Sunderland in a two-legged semi-final.
Revised sixth-round draw (ties to be played by 2 March): Leicester City v Watford, West Brom v Everton, AFC Bournemouth v Manchester City, Bury v Liverpool.