Darren Edmondson looks ahead to the FA Youth Cup gameThe U18s travel to face FC United of Manchester in the first round of this season’s FA Youth Cup this afternoon and youth boss Darren Edmondson admitted that there’s an added edge of excitement surrounding the fixture amongst the squad.
“The lads have been talking about this game for the last week or so,” he said. “The FA Cup at all levels is exciting. This is my first taste of it at youth level so I’m excited for them.
“I just hope we can work on a couple of injuries and go with a reasonably strong squad, because we want to try and get a positive result. If we can do that we can hopefully get another game out on the Brunton Park pitch for them.”
“I haven’t been to FC United’s ground myself,” he added. “When they were promoted, during my time at Barrow, we were also promoted, so I missed going there. What I do know is that they’ve got a great set-up with all of their age groups. They’re a non-league club which is geared up to start moving through the leagues.
“It’ll be a nice pitch and their teams all play football. I think it will be a good game and it will feel different for the lads to be playing under floodlights. It’s a learning curve for the players and it’s down to how they cope with the occasion.
“We’ve spoken to Gateshead about how they play, but it’s about what we do really. Every team will have three or four good players so it’s how you deal with them. Then it’s about how your good players step up and hopefully they’ll produce what we know they can.”
Speaking more about the importance of dealing with the occasion, he said: “They’ve got to go and do a job tonight but they’ll also have to deal with the nerves they’ll be feeling.
“It’ll start to feel different at about half three in the afternoon when they get onto a nice coach. The nerves will start to kick in for them around that time.
“There’s no pressure on FC United of Manchester, they’re probably the underdogs because they’re from the non-professional team. People will be expecting us to go and win comfortably, but it doesn’t work that way.
“We’ve got to be determined and gritty because we’ve got some injuries to key players which will make it difficult. I’m hoping they can step up and show what they’re really about because when they do that they can play some good football. They’re an excellent young bunch of men and I want them to do well for themselves.”
“As I say, team selection could be interesting because we’ve picked up some injuries to a few of our U16 players as well as those we were already carrying,” he commented. “Hopefully we’ll have a couple of our own back and we’ll be able to work towards getting ready for what will be a tough game.
“Joe Breen has been out with a dead leg, but he should be ready to go. That’s a plus because he gives us a stronger body physically and a bit more experience. Max Brown won’t quite make it, I don’t think. He’s been missing with a thigh strain for three weeks and we don’t really want to risk him too early.
“He’s been a big loss for us up front and it’s probably what we’ve been missing. If he comes through he might make the bench, which will be a bonus. Whoever is available I know they’ll go out there to give us their best.
“Whether we’re successful or not will be about how we use our game plan and patterns of play, and whether we can embed them in the game quickly. Most of all I hope they go out and enjoy it. If they do that they’ll find that everything else will take care of itself.”