Former Manchester United midfielder Ben Pearson looking forward to Preston North End’s cup tie with Manchester City tonight.

Preston North End's Ben Pearson
Preston North End's Ben Pearson

Ben Pearson will realise a long-held ambition if he is in the Preston North End side to face Manchester City.

The midfielder kicked-off his career with Manchester United and faced City several times at youth level.

But he always wanted to face City in a first-team game and the Carabao Cup clash at Deepdale offers that chance.

Pearson will need to have his fitness checked though, having felt his hamstring cramp up in the latter stages of Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Birmingham.

That has been put down to fatigue, with the 24-year-old having missed the previous game and several training sessions due to illness.

However, if there is one man PNE need against City, it is Pearson.

He will be needed to get about City’s midfield, have a presence in what will be an incredibly tough game.

Pearson said: “When I was at United, I played against City in the reserves and for the Under-18s a lot.

“Playing against their first-team was always one of my ambitions at some point and it has come about now.

“I have a lot of mates who are City fans and a lot of mates who are United fans, so they are buzzing for this game.

“The only player in the City squad who was in and about my age group when I was at United is the left-back Angelino who they re-signed from PSV in the summer.

“Apart from that there is no one else.

“With all of the money City have, it is hard to come through and get in.”

Pearson is in no doubt how difficult it will be for PNE against Pep Guardiola’s men but says fear doesn’t come into it.

He acknowledges that North End will have to be at the top of their game and City perhaps have something of an off night.

“The main thing for any player is to play against the best players and see where you are at,” said Pearson.

“Everyone wants to play in the Premier League and this will be a good test for our lads, see what we are capable of doing.

“It is 11 men versus 11 men at the end of the day, that is the way to look at it.

“Our application will be crucial, we’ve got to put in the hard work and yards.

“We’ll have to execute our game plan perfectly and we will probably have to hope City have a bad night.

“I suppose that we have nothing to lose, no one thinks we will win.

“But the players inside this squad know what we are capable of.

“There is always one upset in the cup and hopefully it is us causing that.”

At the same time Preston were beating Birmingham, Guardiola’s men were in the process of an 8-0 demolition of Watford.

Coupled with a 3-0 win at Shakhtar Donetsk last week in the Champions League, it has been some response to their 3-2 defeat to Norwich.

“Them winning 8-0 was not the best scenario for us,” said Pearson.

“Cup games are different though, the personnel will change and they are away from home too.

“It will be nice to see the ground full, that is what the club wants every game.

“A big ambition of the club is get these fans coming back and the way to help do that is for us to put on a good show and show we are worth watching.”

For Pearson, he’s had a bit of a rough time health-wise in the last couple of weeks.

He was hit by a virus which laid him low for the 2-0 win against Brentford a week last Saturday.

Only last Thursday did he return to training and it was tough going for him during the Birmingham game.

Said Pearson: “ The Friday night before Brentford and the Saturday was the worst I had been ill, it was horrific.

“I got back training on Thursday and Friday but it was hard playing on Saturday.

“After about 50 minutes I said to the assistant referee that there should be a drinks break as it was so hot.

“He was saying that they had spoken to their manager about it who had said no.

“Fortunately we did have a drinks break towards the end and it was much needed.

“It was hotter then you think out there, to start with it was hard to get your breath.

“From my point of view, it was not the best game to come back an illness in.

“During the closing stages I just concentrated on filling gaps and getting myself into the right places.

“Maybe the position I play in helped me get through.

“People have a perception about me that I run around a lot but I’m actually one of the least running players in our team at the moment.

“In my position it is less about the running and more about where to be, it’s about deciding if to make a sprint and when not to.

“I’m not a big fan of teams out-running each other, you have to be smart to win. We have lads who cover large distance but that isn’t me.”