13 February 2020

Ipswich manager Sheehan says his side are ready to take on Manchester City in huge FA Cup fifth round tie

Ipswich Town manager Joe Sheehan believes his young side are ready to take on Manchester City in the FA Cup this weekend.

More than half of Sheehan's side is made up of teenagers and they could face up to nine England internationals in the City team this Sunday.

But the Tractor Girls have won six cup ties to reach the last 16 and their manager is confident they can hold their own against the Women's Super League leaders.

Speaking to the BBC, Sheehan said: "There will probably be between six and eight players starting at Man City that will only be 16 or 17.

"That's what's so exciting, that we're at this stage of the competition with this group of players. We've had around 13 to 15 young players involved at senior level this year and it's proven a success so far."

The boss has also spoken about the fourth tier side's hopes to play in the Women's Super League one day.

"These players have an opportunity to create their own journey to that top division, via promotion with us," he added.

 Ipswich are currently top of National League Division One South East as they look to reach the third division of women's football.

And while they are on the right path to reaching the top tier, Sheehan is aware they still have a long way to go.

He said: "They're not going to just be placed in the WSL. They're going to have to earn the right to play there. We feel they've got enough about them to, over the next two or three years, grind their way to the top.

"When we do get to the top, having players that have managed to get there themselves, with the experience they'll have got, then aged 18 or 19, you can't buy that. We think that will serve us really well."

Ipswich could face up to nine England internationals (PA Images)

Despite their overwhelming underdog status against Man City this weekend, Sheehan is unwavering in his belief that his team are in it to win it.

"When Man City came out of the hat and then us, I thought 'oh my goodness, we're playing the holders'," he added.

"A lot of people have been saying to me it's about the enjoyment factor and the occasion, but we're going there to try and win the game.

"That's our focus. We've got great belief. We've got a fearless group of young players who have been in really good form for about a year.

"We know the levels are totally different but, because of the momentum we've got with us, we don't know anything other than to try and go and win a game of football.

"We know this is a whole new level of test for us, and the gulf is absolutely huge, but trying to win a game is all we know. It's a one-in-a-million game for us, we know that, but there's no reason why this can't be that one. We'll do everything we can to try and progress."

Man City vs Ipswich Town kicks off on Sunday at 2pm and there will be a full round-up of all the FA Cup fifth round ties on the NewsChain website.

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