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Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

Kevin Sheedy says confidence is high ahead of Everton's Youth Cup fourth round tie at Port Vale on Thursday.

The fixture has been postponed on three occasions as a result of recent weather conditions, but Vale Park is set to finally play host to the match, with opponents Arsenal waiting in the next round.

The Under-18s have enjoyed a perfect start to their 2013 league campaign with back-to-back Elite group wins against Reading and Bolton, but Youth Cup action has been on hold since the 2-0 victory at Southampton in December.

Sheedy admits Thursday's tie may be long overdue, but it also comes at a good time for his squad.

He told evertonfc.com: "Reading and Bolton were teams that finished above us in the first half of the season, so we have done well to beat them both. You want to play games when confidence is high.

"We have to show respect to Port Vale on Thursday. They did very well in the last round to beat Crystal Palace 2-0, who are a very good side.

"They have got a lot of lads who roll their sleeves up and fight hard, so we won’t be under-estimating them. We will have to match their work-rate and ethic but that’s something we have done in our matches this season. Hopefully we can do well on the night but we know we are in for a really tough game."

The postponements have had a knock-on effect, with games now piling up. Sheedy, however, insists his players won't be worrying about anything other than the next match.

He said: "We have got a bit of fixture congestion now and obviously a lot of the games involve overnight travel, so it’s going to be testing.

“Some of our lads are going to be used in the Under-21 games as well and as a result we are going to have to maximise our whole squad. We will take it one game a time and at the minute our eyes are firmly on the Port Vale tie."

Follow the Everton Twitter and Facebook accounts on Thursday for match updates from Vale Park. A full report will appear on evertonfc.com after the final whistle, while evertontv will bring you free highlights and interviews on Friday.

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