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Pep vows Blues will be up for the Cup

Blues take on Coventry City in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round replay at the St. Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium on Tuesday evening (7.45pm).

And although the tie comes during a testing period of four fixtures in 11 days - including a trip to Bristol City on Friday night - the Head Coach says Blues will be doing their utmost to progress.

Blues extended their unbeaten run to six games with a 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

The side had to endure a sticky spell through most of December, which was ended in the FA Cup and the Third Round defeat of Blackburn Rovers.

Said Clotet: "We have been through some problems this season and we have kept adjusting and kept on improving to become, once more, a very solid team again and we're scoring around two goals per game. Slowly we are getting back to our levels.

"We got through a bad run - this happens to every team in the league at some stage - and we've got stronger after it.

"Now we are facing a new challenge. The month of February is congested in regard the fixtures.

"The FA Cup replay was forced because of the draw between us and Coventry City and of course it adds another game to that.

"But for our mentality it is very important that we always face challenges with a view to becoming stronger after them and we certainly want to be competitive in the Cup.

"For us it has served a good purpose already, giving us a boost in the Blackburn Rovers tie in the Third Round, which we took into the league.

"Now we have the opportunity to get into the Fifth Round which would mean a lot to the Club and supporters.

"That is our mentality: to see this game as part of the new challenge we face and do our utmost to come through it successfully."

Blues will not be able to field Scott Hogan as he was not signed at the time of the initial Fourth Round tie.

Clotet also has to assess whether to risk starting with some regulars due to the current demands.

"We are a little bit light in offensive options up front and also a little bit light on the wings because Kerim Mrabti and Dan Crowley are still injured," he commented.

"That plays a part in (the thinking for) this game and those up coming.

"The important thing that we need to demand from ourselves is that we are competitive and that we chase the victory."

Under-23s regular Jack Concannon was named among the substitutes against Forest. The 20-year-old forward was joined in Saturday's matchday squad by defender Nico Gordon, 17, and striker Jayden Reid, 18.

Having given Blues debuts to five Academy products already this season - Odin Bailey, Steve Seddon, Jude Bellingham, Geraldo Bajrami and Caolan Boyd-Munce - Clotet is not averse to putting faith in the youngsters, as and when yet on merit.

Whilst not all may remain in the frame - Bailey, for example, has been loaned to Forest Green Rovers to get regular competitive experience, for similar reasons Seddon is at Portsmouth - it is doing what's best for their overall development.

"It just shows that every young player here who is chasing a career in the game will get help from us, but it's up to them as well.

"If they develop well, play well and show good things in the Under-23s, then they will get a chance to train with us and if they get a chance in the team it's up to them to take it.

"We, as coaches, are here to support them.

"It's important for us to give a chance to those we have a strong belief about in regards to whether they can make it.

"If we do things too early and the player's debut or first few games do not go well, then we are just making a problem for that player's own career.

"When we think a player is ready and he can help the team as well that is the way you make the squad grow."

Clotet says Blues and supporters should be proud of the accent that has been put on youth.

"You look at what everyone has done and everything that has gone on here this season.

"If you told someone at the beginning 'OK, we are going to adapt our football, put some good displays in, create a mentality to get through a bad run and obstacles that come our way as well as develop the young players - and actually play a 16-year-old to help nurture his talent - then there's a lot of things to be proud of."

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