Preston North End’s youth team return to Deepdale on Tuesday night in a 7pm kick-off, as their FA Youth Cup journey continues with the visit of Norwich City in the competition’s fourth round.
Nick Harrison’s team knocked out Charlton Athletic in last month’s third round tie with a 3-1 penalty shootout win, following a 2-2 draw in 120 minutes under the lights in PR1.
It was an entertaining and well-contested game in which PNE triumphed over the Addicks and when asked by the club website if he is hoping for another close game against Category One Norwich, the Academy manager joked to the contrary – knowing he is unlikely to get his wish.
“I hope it’s an easy game really!” Nick said. “But of course, we know it won’t be easy and the players know that as well.
“Norwich have got some really good players and their Academy produces a lot of players. We know it’s going to be tough, we’re going to ask our players to compete and work hard, individually and as a team, and to be creative in the final third.
“We always do a lot of preparation for every game but ultimately, it will down to what the players do when they cross that white line on Tuesday.”
North End’s Category Three Academy were defeated by Shrewsbury Town last time out, albeit with a heavily changed side, but have otherwise enjoyed a decent first half of their league season, sitting third in the EFL North West Youth Alliance standings with eight wins in their 16 matches to date.
Norwich, meanwhile, currently prop up the Premier League U18 southern division and also lost in league action at the weekend against West Ham. The Norfolk outfit were 3-2 winners away at Port Vale in the third round of this competition last month.
The Canaries’ U23 side has had plenty of U18 representation this term, including four starters in Friday’s draw against Tottenham Hotspur, and those players could drop back down to the U18 set-up to face PNE.
But goalkeeper Jimmy Corcoran says North End will be focusing on themselves and will look to take confidence from having home advantage as well as the incentive of trying to impress first team manager, Alex Neil, who was in attendance for the win against Charlton in the last round, only weeks before handing first team debuts to scholars Adam O’Reilly and Ethan Walker.
“We’re all really confident, especially after Adam [O’Reilly] and Ethan [Walker] made their first team debuts; that has given the lads a lot more confidence going into the game,” Jimmy added.
“It shows that there is a pathway into the first team and we just need to take our chances when the gaffer or anyone else is there watching. It will be like a shop window almost to get into the first team so that will be good.”
Extended interviews with both Nick and Jimmy can be found in our mini Youth Cup edition of The One And Only, which will be available for free around the ground ahead of the 7pm kick-off.
All supporters are welcome at Deepdale, with season ticket holders of both PNE and Norwich City able to enter for free upon the production of a valid season ticket/card for the 2018/19 season.
Tickets are also available at £4 for adults and £2 for concessions (over 65s and under 18s) while under 11s can watch for free when attending with an adult.
If you can’t make it to Deepdale to cheer on the club’s scholars, we will have coverage on our Academy Twitter account, @pnefcacademy, as well as additional reaction on both PNE.Com and iFollow PNE to follow overnight.
The game will also be broadcast live on iFollow PNE for those who can't make it, with a match pass available for just £5!
Get to know our scholars in our player profiles section for the U18 squad by clicking here.