Salford City have the chance to make the FA Cup third round for the first time in their history and book a place with the best sides in the country as they travel to League Two leaders Newport County on Saturday afternoon.
Salford’s manager Richie Wellens reflected on what would be a dream tie for the club as a victory would put them in the hat with all 20 Premier League sides.
He said: “well the obvious one would be Man United away at Old Trafford but considering there’s no supporters away that’s more of a frustration.
“So if we’re going to get Man United away in the 5th round when supporters are back in then great but if you get a Premier League team away with no supporters, it’s obviously a slow and more technical game, so it would suit the Premier League team.
“So I would say if there is any non-league teams in the third round, then I would prefer them at home.”
Wellens sees the cup tie as a chance to play some of the youngsters like he has done in the cup competitions since becoming Salford’s manager.
He said: “It gives us an opportunity to give a few of the lads who played in the last cup game at Rochdale an opportunity to play as some of our experienced players we’re looking further down the line at, so we’ll make sure we give them a bit of a rest this weekend.”
Wellens was adamant that his approach to the game wouldn’t change despite the opposition high-flying at the top of League Two and 7 points clear of Salford.
He said: “It won’t influence my approach, we’ll give the young players a chance to improve in a bit more of a competitive environment than Rochdale was, then it’s up to the young players to take the chance.
“Irrespective of what team Newport pick, I’m looking to try and get a good performance and try to progress to the third round.”
Salford have won their last two league games and have started to show some level of consistency for the first time this campaign and Wellens believes he is starting to get his attacking style across to the players.
He said: “Against Bradford we did for the first 60, 65 minutes, I think against Morecombe not really, we got a couple of passages of play that were really good and until Morecombe pulled one goal back, I think we were really good in the game.
“We’re not quite there yet, we need to improve our fitness levels to continue the way we want to play for longer periods but we also need to make sure that when the opposition are having a spell in the game and the ball turns over, we do keep possession of the ball a little bit better.”
Di’Shon Bernard has been thrown into the deep end since Wellens’ appointment and he set up Ash Hunter for his two goals against Morecombe on Tuesday to continue his good form and Wellens was full of praise of the youngster.
He stated: “He has all the attributes to be a very good player, good size 6 foot 2, he’s quick, he’s starting to use his body more and learn the game.
“His heading needs a little bit of work but he is competitive in the air and he’s very good at bringing the ball out of defence so in terms of a modern-day defender he has all the attributes.
“I obviously played him at right-back the first couple of games because I’ve seen them attributes but that’s not really his strongest position, I think since he’s gone in at center-back he’s been excellent.”
Ash Hunter who scored two long-range strikes on Tuesday is someone Wellens regards as being too good for League Two.
He said: “I think he’s a top player in League One, never mind League Two, when he’s coming in on that right foot from the left-hand side, he can slip passes in, he can reverse passes, obviously he can score from distance too.
“So he’s a very, very good player and now we’re getting him to work and pressing from the front along with Henderson and Burgess, that’s another string to his bow and I think if he improves all of those aspects of his game then he can get even better.”