Darren Way is a man on a mission. The Yeovil Town boss is preparing his side for a Checkatrade Trophy Quarter-Final tie against Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night, knowing that a Wembley return for the Glovers is within sight.
Make no mistake, the 38-year-old is not getting ahead of himself. He recognises that a tie against the Cod Army, from Sky Bet League One, will not be easy. Victory in the last eight will then bring about a Semi-Final tie at Shrewsbury Town, a side pushing for promotion from the tier above.
However, the Glovers' form in cup competitions means they go into the game full of confidence. Southend United and Bradford City were soundly beaten in the FA Cup. Way's hometown club, Plymouth Argyle, along with AFC Wimbledon, have been dispatched in this competition so far.
Way, who starred for the Somerset side during their progression up the football pyramid, is relishing each and every test, and his squad have bought into it, too.
“They enjoy playing the cup competitions,” said Way. “Who would turn down the opportunity to be live on TV and have a trip to Wembley?
“As a manager, every game I look to win. I’ve had some good games, some really tactical challenges against great opposition, and I’ve enjoyed every minute. You can see that with the way players have responded and fingers crossed the boys can do us proud again.
“We got to this stage last year, so hopefully we can go at least one step further. This is probably the most games we’ve played in the club’s history, but we've got a better squad now with strength in depth.
“We’ve played against some really good teams and this is another difficult test; we're the underdogs, but we’re the home side and so far we’ve done really well. Morale is really good at the moment, off the back of the Manchester United game and two wins on the trot. It’s another great opportunity to show what we can do.”
The Checkatrade Trophy offers huge incentives for EFL clubs. The aforementioned televised coverage at the semi-final stage and onwards, a trip to the national stadium, and financial benefits for progressing in the competition.
For Yeovil, those funds can prove vital in the day-to-day running of the club, but the boss also enjoys the test posed by the younger opposition introduced to the competition. Chelsea U21 visited Huish Park in the group stages and are the only side to deny the Glovers victory inside 90 minutes so far, and the Blues travel to Lincoln City in the first of the Checkatrade Trophy semi-finals.
Whether it's the Imps or the Premier League young guns who reach the Final, Way just wants to make it, and give his club's fans the opportunity to return to Wembley. They've enjoyed success there before, and the chance to make more memories under the arch is something the former midfielder is intent on.
“I can't talk highly enough of the competition,” he continued. “The rewards are very, very good, and it’s helped the club to balance the books. With a club like Yeovil, we need all the help we can get, and when you convince the players that it’s a good competition to be in, you’d be surprised where you end up.
“I think it’s good for younger players to get their opportunity on the big stage, too. You’ve seen it with Chelsea U21 playing at Stamford Bridge and now going into the semis. When we played Reading U21 last year, they posed us different problems to what we would have had in League Two.
“Luckily I’ve been to Wembley with this club and I know what a great day it was, and it’s up there with my best moments in football. I’m obsessed, and want my players to be obsessed, with trying their maximum to get there again. You don't get many opportunities in your career to go to Wembley.
“It's a matter of getting through this game first, though. We've come up against competition from the level above and each time our players have adapted. Like any player in League Two, they want to prove everyone wrong and prove they’re good enough. Fleetwood is going to be another very difficult task. It’ll be our willpower versus theirs, and hopefully we can come out on top.”