PHIL Parkinson has bashed the bookies for making City favourites to topple Leeds in tonight’s Capital One Cup derby and declared: We are still the underdogs.
Parkinson is excited by the prospect of emulating the cup feat of two seasons ago and claiming another televised scalp at Valley Parade.
But he dismisses any notion that Leeds will be there for the taking following their poor start and the speculation surrounding the future of head coach Dave Hockaday.
Parkinson said: “You can see why the bookies are saying that but we’re not thinking that way. We’re up against a team who’ve got a squad with a budget eight or nine times ours.
“We’ve had a decent start and this is a test to see where we are. Everyone aspires to get to that next level.
“We come up against a team who’ve spent a lot of money in the summer and we are the underdogs.
“I want us to play like the underdogs. That means we’ll raise our game – that’s the only way a team from the lower division will get through.
“The minute any of our supporters and players think that Leeds had a bad result on Saturday and we’ll be okay to put in a mediocre performance – that will not be enough.
“There is a gulf but we’ve got some confident players who are looking forward to getting out on that stage and showing what we’re all about.”
Stephen Darby would love to become the first City captain to beat Leeds at Valley Parade since 1932. The life-long Liverpool fan knows how much beating the noisy neighbours would mean to the supporters.
“There would be no better feeling,” he said. “It would be fantastic but we’ve got to do ourselves justice all over the pitch.
“I went to a few derby games home and away when I was younger and can remember all the emotions. You’d be nervous and excited and desperate to put one over your rivals.
“We haven’t played Leeds here for quite a while so it’s a great occasion for the players and the fans.
“But we can’t get too wrapped up in that. We’ve got to show passion on the pitch – but you’ve got to use the atmosphere in the right way. There’s no point playing like headless chickens.
“The cup games two seasons were very special nights which we’ll never forget. Hopefully we can have another one tonight.”
With Jordan Pickford ineligible, Ben Williams will make his second appearance in City’s goal. The 31-year-old has plenty of experience of the derby atmosphere from his Hibernian days playing against Hearts.
Parkinson said: “Ben’s been superb in and around the lads since he’s been at the club. I really like his character and he did very well at Morecambe.
“It’s important to have someone of that experience to help Jordan and Matt (Urwin). Ben’s presence even when he’s not been playing has been important to us.”
Billy Clarke is fit to return and could line up behind the front two. James Meredith is set for the left-back role with Alan Sheehan switching to the middle for broken-arm victim Andrew Davies.
City have also practised penalties in case they are called upon to defend their record of nine successive wins in shoot-outs.