Rudd ready for big test in front of Carrow Road fans

Goalkeeper Declan Rudd is desperate to make up for last season's FA Youth Cup disappointment when Norwich City Under-18s enter the competition tomorrow night.

David Cuffley

Goalkeeper Declan Rudd is desperate to make up for last season's FA Youth Cup disappointment when Norwich City Under-18s enter the competition tomorrow night.

The young Canaries face Wigan Athletic in a third round tie at Carrow Road (7pm), determined there will no repeat of last December's mauling at the same stage, when they were beaten 6-1 at Sunderland.

Rudd, 18 next month, missed that match at the Stadium of Light after having a knee operation, so this season represents his one chance to make headway in the knockout competition.

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"Last year I couldn't play because I was injured, so this will be my last season that I can play in it," said the former England Under-17 international. "I hope we can go on a good run so I get to play in it a few more times."

Rudd, from Diss, was not involved in the reserve team victory at home to Arsenal two weeks ago but believes that game will have whetted the appetite of City supporters ahead of tomorrow's tie.

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"That game gave a good indication as to what our academy is about with young players playing in it so I hope the fans will want to come and see us again and see us go through to the next round," he said.

"It's good to play at Carrow Road, it's a lovely ground, and I hope we get a few fans there to cheer us on."

Rudd, who signed a two-year professional contract with the club in July, believes his England experience, playing in front of better crowds, will help - and he was on the bench for City's Championship match at Sheffield Wednesday on the final day of last season.

"I think that helps with experience because when you go away with England there are big crowds so it helps you get used to playing in a stadium. I'll be used to it," he said.

Ricky Martin's youngsters are pitted against a Wigan side coached by ex-Canary skipper Dave Watson and although FA Premier Academy League regulars Damon Lathrope, Kris Renton and Luke Daley are too old to play in the FA Youth Cup, there is optimism at Colney about City's chances of progress after league victories in November over Charlton and Portsmouth, either side of a 2-2 draw at Chelsea.

"I've kept a clean sheet in the last game and we've won a few games," said Rudd. "I've been playing well, the team's been playing well. I just hope to carry it on through the Cup game and keep it going for the rest of the season.

"To get to play in this one is special but I put everything into every game."

New goalkeeping coach Tommy Wright has the task of developing City's young hopefuls - Rudd, fellow England international Jed Steer and North East youngster Sam Grieveson, taken on by the Canaries after a trial earlier this season.

"Working with him day to day is good," said Rudd. "He makes me work hard, praises me when I'm doing well, and when I'm not doing so well he tells me what I should be doing. He's a very good coach."

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