Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is expecting a "difficult night" against Derby County in the club's FA Cup fourth-round tie on 29 January. The 30-year-old skipper has admitted the Rams have nothing to lose against United and can play the match without any fear.
Rooney is expecting a lively atmosphere at Pride Park. He admitted, too, that the pressure is firmly on United to seal their passage into the next round. "We know, as we've played there before, that it will be a difficult game with a good atmosphere on Friday night," Rooney told MUTV. "I'm sure they will be really up for it with their crowd and we will be up for it as we've experienced these games.
"The players who joined us last year and played against Cambridge and Yeovil will have seen that an FA Cup tie like this is more of a battle than a football game. We have to be ready for that and be ready for a tough game as the cup is full of surprises."
Rooney warned his United teammates that they will need to be up for the challenge or they risk early elimination from the FA Cup. "Derby have nothing to lose. No-one is expecting them to win and they will try to cause an upset. We know that and have to be ready for that," he said.
United only edged into the fourth round of the competition thanks to a last-minute Rooney penalty against Sheffield United. The captain stressed that his team will need to match their less-fancied opponents in terms of commitment and hard work if they are to progress.
"It will be a difficult night for us, Sheffield United at home was a tough game, so we have to be ready to battle and win the battle. Hopefully then our qualities will show through," the United talisman explained.