COLCHESTER United lead coach Chris Llewellyn says his young players are ready to rise to the occasion as they go in search of a FA Youth Cup quarter-final spot tonight.

The U’s under-18 side host Reading in the fifth round of the competition at the Weston Homes Community Stadium (kick-off 7pm), with a home tie against Arsenal awaiting the winners in the last eight.

Colchester are the smallest club left in this year’s FA Youth Cup and it is the first time in 13 years that they have reached the last-16 stage of the competition.

Llewellyn admits his team head into their clash with the Royals as underdogs – but is expecting them to embrace the challenge that awaits them.

He said: “They know the history of the competition.

“It’s the furthest that a Colchester United side has been in the competition for some time and the players are aware of that.

“We’ve done well so far and we’re taking one game at a time but I think we can go further.

“It’s a good thing that this game is coming so soon after our win over MK Dons and we have a bit of momentum going.

“We’re massive underdogs in this competition and we haven’t got the resources of the other clubs.

“We’ve had Reading looked at and we’re ready for the game.

“It’s great that we have home advantage tonight and it gives everyone a chance to come and take in the game and come and watch.”

Llewellyn was appointed Colchester’s under-18 boss last summer, having previously worked within Swansea City’s successful academy.

The former Norwich City player says he is enjoying his time at the U’s, whose academy player development pathway is well documented.

“I’m really enjoying my time at Colchester,” said the former Wales international.

“I’ve come to this club to develop players but I want to be judged on how many players we can eventually get into the first team.

“I’m getting know the different people here well and the philosophy is for young players to be brought through to the first team.

“It’s about testing the players and putting them through different scenarios.

“I’ve worked at a Premier League club in the past where the pathway wasn’t there.

“The young players are working hard day in, day out and you can feel their frustration, because the pathway isn’t there.”

Meanwhile, Llewellyn believes Ryan Giggs can be a success as Wales’ new manager.

The pair played together on the international scene and Giggs last month took over from Chris Coleman, in charge of the national team.

Llewellyn added: “I’ve been in a lot of Wales squads with Ryan and he’s an iconic figure in Wales.

“Personally, I’d have liked Craig Bellamy to have got the job because I’ve known him for a long time and I think he would have done a great job.

“But I’m sure Ryan Giggs will do a great job too and the country will get right behind him.

“I don’t think he’ll have too much to change – he’s got a good young squad to work with and a lot of talent coming through.”