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By ESPN Staff

Carling Cup Preview: O'Neill re-united with Leicester

Martin O'Neill is set to be re-united with his old club Leicester in tonight's Carling Cup clash.

O'Neill enjoyed great success during five years in charge of Leicester, winning the League Cup in 1997 and 2000, before moving to Celtic.

He said: 'I am looking forward to the game immensely. I have never seen a game in the Walkers Stadium. All my days with Leicester were at Filbert Street.

'The occasion will be a bit strange and there are now a new generation of Leicester supporters who would probably not have heard of me.

'I am going there to try to win. We are taking this competition seriously but we will certainly have to play a lot better than against Fulham otherwise Leicester will beat us.'

Leicester manager Rob Kelly admits his young squad are 'learning on the coal face' but is backing them to shine.

City stretched their unbeaten run in league and cup to seven matches with a 1-1 home draw against Crystal Palace in the Coca-Cola Championship at the weekend, with Kelly fielding a starting XI consisting of seven players under 25.

In total the Foxes have 13 squad members under that age with Conrad Logan, Richard Stearman, Levi Porter, James Wesolowski, Chris O'Grady and Matty Fryatt all 21 or younger.

However, Kelly insists the youngsters' eagerness to learn and play at the highest level has seen them mature quickly this season and the City boss believes that will stand them in good stead.

'With the injuries we have had this season we have been forced to perhaps play one or two of the young lads more than we would have wanted to, but they haven't let us down when they have been called upon,' Kelly told PA Sport.

'They have done well and they will get better but I do believe if you are expecting them to play 40-odd games, that is a lot.

'We would like to use them more sparingly but the games they have featured in will stand both them and the football club in good stead.

'Playing at West Brom, Sunderland and Birmingham is a great experience. How many times have young players at other clubs played in front of crowds that big in a Championship game of that profile?

'Right now, they are having to grow up before their time and they are having to learn on the coal face and that makes it hard for them.

'But this cup match will be hugely beneficial to them because they all have ambitions of playing in the Premiership - hopefully with us - and facing a big club such as Villa is a great chance for them to set a mark for themselves.'

Kelly faces a potential injury crisis ahead of the third-round tie with midfield quartet Stephen Hughes, Danny Tiatto, Wesolowski and Porter all facing fitness tests.

Captain Paddy McCarthy, Darren Kenton, Andy Johnson, Gareth Williams and Fryatt are already ruled out.

West Ham and under-pressure manager Alan Pardew, beaten in their last seven matches, will hope to get a win under their belts as they travel to League One Chesterfield.

Championship West Brom also face tough Premiership opposition in Arsenal, and will have to do so without former England striker Kevin Phillips because to a calf strain.

Luton manager Mike Newell faces a test of his high-flying Championship side as he takes the Hatters to one of his former clubs in in-form Premiership outfit Everton.

Watford will also hope for relief from their Premiership predicament as they face Championship bottom side Hull while Sheffield United face one of their former managers as Steve Bruce's Birmingham visit.

Embattled Leeds, who have moved closer to bringing Dennis Wise and Gus Poyet to Elland Road after agreeing financial compensation with Swindon for the pair and also parting company with caretaker boss John Carver, host fellow Championship strugglers Southend.

There are three other ties tonight with Notts County hosting Southampton, Port Vale facing Norwich and Doncaster at Wycombe.