Mumba and Martin have given City U21s extra motivation ahead of Trophy clash with Cheltenham
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Seeing Bali Mumba and Josh Martin in Championship action for Norwich City’s first team has provided some ideal extra motivation for Norwich City’s development squad ahead of their EFL Trophy game against Cheltenham Town tonight.
The Canaries will field an under-21 squad against the League Two side at Whaddon Road (6pm kick-off), with both teams having already qualified for the knockout stages but top spot up for grabs - and with it a seeding in the regionalised draw for the second round.
City have impressed in the competition this season, winning 3-2 at League One side Plymouth and then romping to a 5-0 victory over League Two leaders Newport County, with Tyrese Omotoye scoring a hat-trick.
Martin and Mumba both played at Newport but won’t be returning to Trophy action, with the second round knockout ties due to be played in December.
“They won’t be with us, it’s our usual under-23 team, with some under-18s with us,” said coach David Wright.
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Mumba and Martin were brought on in the 68th minute at Carrow Road on Saturday, with many surprised to see Daniel Farke introducing two young talents with the score at 0-0 against fellow Championship promotion hopefuls Swansea.
They helped to make the difference though, with Mumba in particular impressing as an attacking left-back and playing a key part in Marco Stiepermann’s late winner.
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“That’s the beauty of having a manager like Daniel, who really believes in youth, who gives youth an opportunity,” Wright continued. “The boys have got to work hard, they’ve got to earn their opportunity but once Daniel believes they have done that, he will give them that.
“It’s great for the young boys to see that pathway into the first team, because I know at some other clubs it’s not so much like that.”
Young striker Omotoye has caught the attention of supporters this season, with seven goals in nine games at development level including his hat-trick at Newport, but Wright is happy with the 18-year-old’s attitude amid the added attention.
“Ty is a very focussed lad, he understands where he is in terms of his development pathway,” the former Crewe defender continued.
“He’s not getting carried away, he’s concentrating on becoming consistent in his performances and just improving every day, striving to be the best he can be to give himself the opportunity to try and fulfil his potential.”
Plymouth and Newport both made plenty of changes to their starting line-up but Cheltenham have chosen strong teams for the first two games in South Group Six.
The Robins are sixth in League Two after six wins in 11 games and progressed to the FA Cup second round with a 3-1 home win over non-league South Shields on Saturday.
While there may have been some nerves ahead of the first two group games for City’s youngsters, Wright is not concerned about that turning into over-confidence as they take on senior opposition again.
“I think it’s good to be nervous, it maybe proves that it actually means something to you,” he added.
“This is going to be a really tough game but they’re under no illusions whatsoever about that. Cheltenham are a very strong team full of senior professionals.
“So the lads, as individuals and as a group, understand how hard this game is going to be. They’re going to have to come out and be brave and express themselves, show their personalities.
“If they do that then the result will take care of itself.”
Wright’s squad have won six of their nine games so far this season and were top of Division Two in Premier League Two prior to a 2-0 defeat away to a strong Leeds team, featuring over-age players including Pablo Hernandez and Raphinha, and a 3-1 home loss to Middlesbrough.
City’s academy coach is thrilled with the progress made so far though, concluding: “I’m really pleased with the way the boys have performed and the way they’re developing individually and as a group.
“When we went to the likes of Leeds, they had six first team players, so that kind of experience of going up against Premier League players as well - and they were at it as well. They performed really well, which tested our group, which was great for us, to see how they react under that kind of stress.
“Overall they’ve had a really good start, I’m really pleased.”
- Check back to this website for updates from the Trophy game this evening