United must become the first team to beat the Londoners since Thomas Tuchel’s appointment at the beginning of January in order to reach the semi-finals, succeeding where the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Atletico Madrid have failed.
Although he admits United will enter the tie as underdogs, and that they must “out work” the Londoners to stand any chance of progressing, Heckingbottom knows their industry must also be combined with intelligence after stressing Chelsea have improved since facing his former club Barnsley in the previous round.
“Chelsea have gone up another level,” he said. “The teams who have done well against them have got in their faces. But we need more than that, because they’ve gone up a level.
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“It’s a huge task but it’s a one off game. Everyone wrote this team off going to Old Trafford. We shouldn’t be ashamed to try and out work them.”
Heckingbottom believes United’s shock victory over their namesakes from Manchester earlier this term, before Chris Wilder parted company with the club last weekend, provides the template for his team to follow at Stamford Bridge.
Previously United’s under-23’s coach, Heckingbottom could delve into the ranks of the Steelphalt Academy youth programme to bolster a squad which has been ravaged by injuries in recent months.
With Chelsea winning nine and drawing four of their 13 outings under Tuchel, Heckingbottom said: “It’s a one off game. It’s a great game to give everything in.”