Switch won't affect us - Rudd
Michael Bailey Goalkeeper Declan Rudd is not about to let missing out on playing at Goodison Park ruin Norwich City's FA Youth Cup dream. The Canaries were scheduled to face Everton at their Premier League home in the fifth round of the prized competition, until the Toffees secured a draw with Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round.
Goalkeeper Declan Rudd is not about to let missing out on playing at Goodison Park ruin Norwich City's FA Youth Cup dream.
The Canaries were scheduled to face Everton at their Premier League home in the fifth round of the prized competition, until the Toffees secured a draw with Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round.
That left the Everton first team's replay taking priority and Norwich's visit was swiftly moved to the Halton Stadium - the 13,500 all-seater home to rugby league's Widnes Vikings.
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But Rudd, City's penalty shoot-out hero against Stoke in the fourth round, believes the disappointment of missing out on playing at one of the country's grandest stadiums will have no effect on his side's performance as the under-18s prepare for their biggest game of the season this evening.
“It is a shame it's not at Goodison, but it is still a big occasion for us and it doesn't change anything,” said Rudd. “Obviously we'd have wanted to play there because it has got a lot of history, it's a Premier League ground and a big club plays there, so it is a disappointment.
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“But I don't think it will affect us because we've just go to go there and do our job, and whether that's at Goodison or playing at the rugby stadium, it doesn't matter. We've still got the same job we've got to do.”
Rudd is enjoying his first real bite of the FA Youth Cup at the final time of asking, having missed out on Norwich's only game in the competition last season with injury.
This season Rudd was a virtual spectator against Wigan in round three when City won 1-0 at Carrow Road, but he saved two penalties and converted the decisive spot-kick in the shoot-out to see off Stoke.
“It has been brilliant, just in making the most of my last year being able to play in it really, and just doing what I can to help the team out and progress as far as they can go,” added Rudd. “It is brilliant being able to play at Carrow Road. We've obviously played there twice now and going up to play Everton at the rugby stadium is still a big stadium, so hopefully there will be a few people coming to watch.”
Should the need for penalties arise against Everton as well, Rudd will have backing from one of his centre-backs, David Stephens.
“I don't think it will go to penalties but if it does, I'm sure Dec will step up again,” said the promising Wales Under-17 cap. “As a team we've done really well and as individuals we've done really well, so we just want to carry that on to the Everton game.
“Everything has revolved around it at the moment, preparation - we've done set-pieces today - everything has been revolving around it.
“It would mean so much. It is what everyone wants, really wants, because we've got Manchester City or Newcastle in the next round if we go through and that would be a dream as well.
“But we've got to concentrate on this game first. We're a very good team and I think if we're on our game, we could give anyone a game.”
Academy manager Ricky Martin has blown a football clich� apart as he takes his young charges to Merseyside. City take on Everton on the back of a 3-2 win over Chelsea in the Premier Academy League on Saturday.
And Martin revealed all of his team's preparations for the league fixture were actually focused on their midweek cup clash - even his half-time team talk.
“You hear the clich� one game at a time from the managers, but that's not been correct with ourselves because we're about looking to develop players,” said Martin. “We've made the FA Youth Cup a big priority now, so Saturday's game we were speaking of as a rehearsal for Thursday. We actually said we are going to go into Saturday's game, we are going to practise this and practise that, with a view that this is then going to be in place for the game at Everton.
“My team talk on Saturday was actually 'we need to do this in preparation for the game against Everton'. So it wasn't that clich� of one game at a time, we were actually working toward the FA Youth Cup and hopefully with a positive result. We could then have a trip to either Manchester City or Newcastle away, and the games leading up in the academy league would be in preparation for that game.”
“The league games are very important but they're really a development tool, so you look at Saturday's game against Chelsea, of course we want to do well and win the game but it's about them developing and coming off the pitch a better player. That's what Academy football is all about.”
Win or lose, Martin believes his current group have proved they are promising stars of the future.
“It's been a massive momentum for the Academy - not me personally, but for everyone associated with the Academy - because we've had a couple of bad runs in the last few years and it's something that disappoints us,” admitted Martin.
“We focused this year and said we've got a good group, we've gone into the Christmas period with some good games in the league under our belt, and then we knew we could kick on. It's about that mental toughness and that strength of taking you to an area in the Youth Cup where we've not been used to.
“I said in the press conference leading up to the third round that this group is more than capable of getting at least to the fifth round and beyond. We're in the fifth round and the task now is to get into the quarter-final.”