March 12 2014 Latest news:
Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Norwich City Under-18s chief Neil Adams is backing his latest crop to handle the weight of expectation ahead of tonight’s FA Youth Cup third round tie at Preston after last season’s epic triumph.
Adams guided the Canaries to a first success in 30 years in the prestigious youth competition after beating holders Chelsea on 4-2 aggregate.
City’s U18s’ boss knows Norwich’s next generation will now be view as a prized scalp after the recent exploits of talented teenagers like the Murphy twins and former captain Cameron McGeehan.
“Preston have spoken in good terms about us and about the challenge of facing the holders,” he said. “But they are not playing against the Murphys or Cameron McGeehan. They are playing against a new group of capable players who have the opportunity to go and make a little bit of a name for themselves.
“It will be tough. Preston is a decent outfit and we are away from home. We have to be on our toes. There is no more pressure on them because of what we did in this competition because they are ultimately here to earn professional contracts. The good thing you can say to them is this competition can be a big carrot and if you perform well it doesn’t half do your chances of earning a professional contract a boost. Not only does it bring you to the attention of the manager but the general public.”
Norwich’s squad contains only four survivors from last season’s memorable victory and Adams insists that is a major factor which should not be overlooked against a free-scoring Preston team.
“It is a different group and I read the other day we were defending our title but it is not like the first team go and win the FA Cup and defend it with maybe one or two new players,” he said. “We have a new group, we start from scratch. We are the holders in name, of course, but the reality is we only have three or four left who were involved in the final.
“That night at Stamford Bridge feels about five minutes ago. It was a fabulous time for us and we were really proud of what we achieved. The support we had at Carrow Road and also down at Chelsea. It was a wonderful time for the academy but it is done and gone now and we have to start again.”
Adams believes Josh Murphy’s accelerated progress illustrates what is possible for his latest charges.
“We understand it is about producing players for the first team and the pleasing thing for me is to see them train with the first team or getting on the bench like Josh,” he said.
“We got eight professionals signed from that group. That is a fantastic number and why we are here as an academy to make professional players. Unlike when perhaps Chelsea and Manchester United win the FA Youth Cup they can’t really say to those lads there is a place for you in our first team – not when they are paying £30m for players.
“The proof is in the pudding here. Look at Josh. If he had not played so well last year who knows how quickly his career would have progressed. That is what we can say to this group of players – you were in his position 12 months ago.
“You go into Norwich now and I see some of those lads involved last season signing autographs and I think what has the game come to, but they were mini stars. They deserve everything they have got.”