Michael Woods is looking forward to renewing aquaintances with “two of the best coaches” he’s played under – but hopes to knock them out of the FA Cup.
Hartlepool United come up against Derby County in Saturday’s third-round tie at Victoria Park.
Derby are managed by Paul Clement, who is having a sensational first season in management, taking the Rams to second place in the Sky Bet Championship.
The former Real Madrid coach is assisted by John Peacock and both men have featured heavily in the career of Woods.
“I’m looking forward to seeing them on Saturday,” Woods said. “They are two of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with.
“I’ve not seen either of them for a couple of years, so it will be nice to shake hands with them and say hello.”
Clement was the midfielder’s boss at Chelsea while Peacock coached him in the England Youth set-up.
“Paul was the Youth Team manager at Chelsea,” said the 25-year-old. “He was a top coach and great man-manager.
“I worked closely with him for a couple of years.
“I think to coach at a club like that you have got to be very good and he’s been mentored by two of the best in the world, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti.
“There are probably no better guides for a coach.
“It’s no surprise to me that he’s gone to Derby and done very well.
“They are absolutely flying and they are playing the football I know Paul likes his teams to play.
“It’s certainly a big test for us, but one we’ll look forward to.”
Woods says that he came so close to cup glory with Clement at Stamford Bridge.
“Under Paul, we had a great FA Youth Cup run,” he said.
“We lost to Man City over two legs but we really should have won the cup.
“We drew 1-1 at home but we had loads of chances and should have been 4-1 or 5-1 up after the first leg.
“We lost the second leg 3-1, but the cup should have been ours.
“Paul was good then and you knew he was going to do very well for himself.”
Clement’s influence helped Woods make his first-team debut still three months short of his 17th birthday in the third round of the FA Cup exactly eight years ago.
Peacock is the right-hand man of Clement now at Pride Park and Woods says Derby have got a great pairing to take them into the Premier League.
“John’s a great coach too,” he explained. “He was an England coach when I played for the Under 16 and Under 17 team.
“I always felt he was wasted at that level so it was no surprise he ended up at a big club like Derby.”