Toughest test yet for City young guns
Paddy Davitt Norwich academy boss Ricky Martin has warned his young guns to prepare for the ultimate test in Saturday's FA Youth Cup quarter-final against holders Manchester City (2pm).
Norwich academy boss Ricky Martin has warned his young guns to prepare for the ultimate test in tomorrow's FA Youth Cup quarter-final against holders Manchester City (2pm).
The Canaries head to Eastlands looking to inflict a first defeat of the season on the young Sky Blues, but Martin insists his side travel in buoyant mood after dumping Everton out of the competition on penalties in the previous round.
Norwich's reward is a daunting trip to one of the best academies in the country - with Jim Cassells' operation having produced 26 first team players in the last decade, including England internationals Shaun Wright-Phillips and Micah Richards.
"It's a big opportunity for our academy and these don't come along very often," said Martin.
"We're in the last eight of a national competition that started in September and we're now in March - which is an achievement in itself. The carrot for us is to get through to a two-legged semi-final and hopefully a full house.
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"We've also got another incentive to beat the current holders. At senior level you always want to beat Man United because they normally have a title here or there.
"This team hasn't been beaten this season. We want to go away and be known as the team that beat the only undefeated academy side in the country. What a coup that would be for little old Norwich."
Martin is backing his troops to more than punch above their weight against a club who have reached two of the last three finals - triumphing over Chelsea 4-2 on aggregate 12 months ago.
"I sense they are keen and eager to get the game on now," said Martin. "We've built things up and been very professional during the week. We've got a game plan but I think the word I would use is focus - they are really focused on what is expected.
"The staff here have done their stuff and we know we have to impose ourselves on to them. If we have seven, eight or nine individuals better than them on the day you'd think we've have a great chance."
Martin planned to watch last night's quarter-final at White Hart Lane, where Arsenal beat Tottenham 3-1.
"Every round we have faced we have looked at the next one," he said. "I don't see anything wrong with that - you need to look forward at what is ahead of you.
"I know the club, the community and the county and they would get behind the lads. To play an Arsenal or Tottenham would really bring the crowd out and the boys know the fans would fill Carrow Road.
"No disrespect to Southampton but we could have been playing them in the academy league at Colney this weekend with maybe 25 watching. Instead we'll be waking up, having a pre-match meal, and travelling to a fantastic stadium for a quarter-final."
Captain Korey Smith admits the squad has been in countdown mood since knocking out Everton.
"It hasn't been out of mind for the last two weeks," he said. "I'm constantly thinking about it. We're above Premiership clubs in the league and we've knocked them out in the previous rounds of this competition, so we know if we put our mind to it and work hard we can win matches."
Midfield ally Tom Adeyemi revealed City had done their homework on the holders.
"It's a massive opportunity and we can't wait to take it with both hands," he said. "Obviously we've had a look at them and discussed what their strengths and weaknesses are, and we've tried to develop a game plan that can exploit those weaknesses.
"We don't ever play them in the league during the season, but we have seen some video clips."