MARK LILLIS handed over the managerial reins to Mark Robins having given the new boss an immediate chance to create some club history.
The caretaker boss masterminded the 2-1 FA Cup fourth-round replay win at Leicester which put Town one game off only a third quarter-final appearance since the War.
“We all know staying in the Championship is the top priority this season, but it’s fantastic that we’re still in the FA Cup,” said Town’s academy manager Lillis.
“It’s great to be having a crack at a Premier League side at our place, and the new manager has a chance to have a good look at the side without the pressure of needing league points.
“I was very aware of the 6-1 league defeat at Leicester (on New Year’s Day) and Tuesday’s win should give all the players real belief.
“That’s the word I stressed to them at half-time, when I reminded them it was 1-1, not 3-0 like the last time we had been there.
“I always thought we could win the tie if we stayed strong and focused, and Oliver Norwood came up with a great pass as Sean Scannell a fantastic run and finish to put us through.”
Lillis accepts Town still have injury concerns, with defender Joel Lynch left out at Leicester after feeling a reaction following his return from a hamstring injury against Cardiff last Saturday.
But the man who made six changes from the home draw with the Championship leaders confirmed Jack Hunt, Norwood and James Vaughan were all rested.
“Alex Smithies has had a family bereavement, and our thoughts are with him, while Joel withdrew late on and Neil Danns was ineligible,” he explained.
“Myself and (Under 21 coach) Steve Eyre talked long and hard and we decided to try to freshen things up, and I guess it paid off.
“Throughout my time in charge, I was telling the lads not in the side to stay sharp because their time would come, and all the players have a part to play going forward.
“Jordan Sinnott, Chris Atkinson and Murray Wallace all came in and did well, and it was great to see Oscar Gobern return from injury as a substitute.”
Lillis hailed the input of Eyre as well as academy coaches Frankie Bunn and Tony Carss and added: “We’re ready to give the new manager as much information as he requires.
“The new manager has come in with an assistant and it’s up to them and the board how much they want us to be involved going into Sunday’s game (the answer was fully involved).”
It’s Town’s first meeting with top-flight opposition since they were beaten 2-1 at Arsenal in the FA Cup fourth round the season before last.
Their last win over a Premier League side was by a 2-1 margin at home to Birmingham in the third round in 2007-08, when Andy Ritchie was manager.
That was the last season they reached the fifth round, winning 1-0 at Oldham to seal a trip to Chelsea, who won 3-1.
As a player, Lillis scored when Mick Buxton’s Town toppled top-flight QPR 2-1 in the third round at Leeds Road in 1983-84.