City youngsters to show what they're made of

Michael Bailey Academy manager Ricky Martin has called on Norwich City's fledgling Canaries to do prove their worth in their season's prestige competition - the FA Youth Cup.

Michael Bailey

Academy manager Ricky Martin has called on Norwich City's fledgling Canaries to do prove their worth in their season's prestige competition - the FA Youth Cup.

The cup has long been seen as the acid test for the club's youth production line, and on that score Norwich have been off the pace for the last three seasons.

But the Canaries' latest academy products will look to draw a line under those three early exits - all to eventual semi-finalists - with victory over Premier League Wigan Athletic in their third round tie at Carrow Road tonight (7pm).

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"It is a big game for the academy and the last three seasons we've been disappointing in the Youth Cup to be honest," said Martin. "It's something we need to bounce back from. We need to get a little run together this year and that's what we'll be looking for and we've got to start that by winning on Wednesday.

"Basically we haven't been in the cup after Christmas now for a little while, so Wednesday is very important and the lads will be very prepared for that."

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Norwich's Under-18 side will be without three professionals and Academy League regulars - strikers Kris Renton and Luke Daley, plus midfielder Damon Lathrope - who are ineligible for the competition due to their age. Martin is well aware of just how important the FA Youth Cup is, the production line of past winners clear for everyone to see - including some a little too close to home with derby day approaching.

"You look at the Manchester United group that came through, they were all successful in the Youth Cup as well," added Martin. "Ipswich Town have had success in recent years and they won the Youth Cup. Manchester City last year, obviously you've got Daniel Sturridge and people like that coming out of their team.

"So what our manager will be looking for will be for them to stand out when they're competing against players in their own age group, and that's what I'd be expecting - certainly from Tom Adeyemi, Korey Smith and Declan Rudd, and some other players.

"If they want to have a career in football, and they want to make that breakthrough into senior football, they've got to stand out on Wednesday night."

And Martin is confident this current crop of City youngsters is good enough to make progress in the opening Youth Cup exchanges.

"I think this group is certainly good enough to progress, at least to the fifth round of the cup, and that means we've got to win on Wednesday and then hope for a good draw," added Martin, with tonight's opponents managed by former Canaries defender Dave Watson.

"Wigan are a Premier League club and they've got to produce players good enough for the Premier League. So let's be realistic. Dave Watson has got to get players ready for Premier League football.

"For this game, and for how important a run is for us, it's more about us being prepared. It's about us being right on the night and I'm sure if we do, then Wigan will have a lot to deal with."

n Admission for the game is via the Jarrold Stand turnstiles on the night, tickets priced at £4 and concessions £1. There is no free entry for season ticket holders.

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