Academy Manager Paul Stansfield has encouraged the Town academy squad to make the most of their opportunity as preparations for their FA Youth Cup match against Stockport continue.He explained: “This is their time in the spotlight because people will be there, the Gaffer, coaches and the other people who matter will be watching. We are giving them the experience of playing at our stadium which will help them.
“They know what this opportunity is all about and they are desperate to get going. The problem we will have as coaches will be picking a team. They are all doing so well and there is a strong competition for places.”
However, while this may be a unique experience for the players, Town's Academy Manager insists this match must be treated no differently to those played so far this season.
He said: “It is important that we put the fixture in to context. We might be playing at the stadium and have some fans in the ground but this is still an U18s match just like our games against Rotherham and Burton Albion. We don't want to get carried away and forget what we are about.”
“We have got to do things right and give ourselves the best possible platform to take the game to Stockport. If we do that then whoever is the best team will win the game.”
After two away draws last season the opportunity to play a match at home is one which Stansfield is looking forward to.
He added: “It's a massive occasion and it's great we have a home draw. Last year we played two away games and we didn't get a chance to play at our home stadium. Stockport will be a tough challenge, however, if we control what we are doing and put in the hard work on the training field, I don't see why we can't put in a good performance. All we ask the lads is that they do their best.”
As the match draws ever closer the academy coaches are looking to fully maximise the learning experience for the players.
He explained: “We will run our preparation in a very similar way to the first team. We will have our team meetings on the day of the match rather than the day before and make a few other small changes.
“This will help those who haven't been involved before. This will help them understand how a big game is set up. This is slightly different to how we usually do things but it's good for progression.”
The match will be played at The EnviroVent Stadium on Tuesday 1st November at 7:45pm.
Prices have been set at £4 adults, £3 concessions and free for all U18's.