Joyce was managing United's reserves in 2010/11 - what is effectively now the Under-23s team - and he worked with Paul McGuinness, who guided the youth side to Youth Cup glory that season, beating Sheffield United 6-3 on aggregate in the final.
Joyce told the Manchester Evening News: "They've got some very good players. A host of good players. We can only worry about ourselves. We've played City recently, beat them, Liverpool recently, beat them, Chelsea recently, beat them
"We've got our own way, we're probably not expected to win any of those games. We jumped up a category at the start of the season and it was really hard for the boys, but they've adapted and developed, they know what they are and what they're good at.
"United have a host of players, I've watched them play a few times and it's a different team every week because they've got that many players. We've had most games where we've played the same team in every game because that's what we've got."
Joyce admits Forest's line-up is strictly local.
"The reality is, of the starting XI, eight of them are local first years, one schoolboy, two second years from Ireland, so there are nine lads from Nottingham in the team," said Joyce.
"To compete with the biggest in the country in the first year in Category One football they've done unbelievably well to get where they are.
"It's a great learning curve, a great test, you need different tests for players to break through to the first team, this is one academies can't manufacture because it's the realism of the pressure of playing in front of a crowd that the top clubs have in all their home games."
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