Youth team coach and former North End defender Andy Fensome says the FA Youth Cup is something the scholars have been thoroughly looking forward to.
‘Fenners’, who will be on the touchline alongside Academy manager Nick Harrison for Tuesday night’s clash at Deepdale against Charlton Athletic spoke to iFollow PNE at the team’s UCLan Sports Arena training ground.
And he admitted that the level of determination to make the team for the clash with the Addicks had been at its highest level this week.
“It’s a big game,” he said. “It is something the lads come into their scholarships looking forward to. They know that it is coming up, they work their hardest to get into the team and playing at Deepdale is a great day for them.
“Some of them definitely won’t have played at Deepdale before. Some may have been lucky enough to play in school finals, but playing under the lights at Deepdale is a special occasion.
“It is a new experience for them, but for some of them the adrenaline will be pumping. We are into December, so they have played a lot of games already. Fatigue will come into it at some stage for both sides, as it has done in previous cup games we have been involved in, but the boys are fit enough, they know their jobs and hopefully they go into it well-prepared.
“It is something they look forward to all season. They should try and enjoy the experience and hopefully go on to win the game.”
Andy took the chance to see the south London side in action as they reached the third round by beating Southend United at Welling’s ground in the last stage and he knows what they are about.
“They are a good attacking side,” he continued. “They held out well and didn’t concede. We’ve looked at the videos and hopefully given the lads enough information to help them go and win the game.
“It is a big game, it is important to the lads. It is important that they go and perform. They will have a lot of family and friends their to support them and they should look to enjoy it.”
Jack Baxter became the latest Academy player to be involved in a matchday squad at the weekend, selected on the bench for the first team’s clash with Birmingham City at St Andrews and the Academy coach feels this will boost the whole squad as they prepare to run out at PR1.
“Any young lad that gets an opportunity like that, it is great for them. Jack has been in the squad a few times and not quite made the bench, but to actually make the bench is fantastic for him.
“I am sure he will have loved that experience and will go onto enjoy it more often. Hopefully he will get a chance to get on the pitch at some stage, but that is up to him to work hard and to try and prove himself with the first team, but Saturday was a great day for him and his family.
“It was a boost in the lead up to this game. Adam O’Reilly has done it a few times before and so there are a couple of lads who have now experienced it. They know there is a pathway for the boys if they are doing well enough and it is a boost for all of them,” he added.