Ethan Walker is looking forward to being back at Deepdale on Tuesday as PNE’s U18s take on Norwich City in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup, less than a month after he made his first team debut against Aston Villa.
The young Lilywhites are looking to continue their good start to January after winning two of their first three games this calendar year.
Walker’s first appearance at Deepdale this season came in the 3-1 penalty shootout win over Charlton Athletic in the third round of the Youth Cup. The scholar played a big part in the victory scoring a penalty in normal time and in the shootout.
Speaking to iFollow PNE, the youngster thinks the cup competition will provide a boost to all of the players.
“I think it’ll be a great pick up for the boys, for the youth team lads to get out of the league games,” said Walker.
“We’ve been off to a good start coming back from the Christmas break and I think it’ll be a good start to do well against Norwich as well.”
It has been a whirlwind last couple of months for Walker. Reflecting on his senior debut, just before he entered the game, Walker was pictured getting instructions from first team boss Alex Neil and he revealed what the manager said to him.
“It was great. It’s something that I’ve dreamt of doing since I was only little but to do it in front of 20,000 people is mind-blowing when it comes to terms. I loved it, loved every second of it.
“He just said, ‘Are you ready?’ and the only thing you can reply to that is ‘Yeah, I’m ready,’ and he started smiling. It was a great day, a great feeling and it’s good to see that he had confidence in me to go on.”
Walker is only six months into his scholarship and his rise to North End’s first team has been impressive, but when he returns to the youth team set-up, the 16-year-old stressed just how important it is to carry the same attitude and standards into each game no matter what age group.
“When you’ve been up with the first team there is no chance you are going to come back down to the youth team and not fill in what you’ve done with the first team so you can’t let the standard drop,” added Walker.
“I think when you’ve got a scholarship you’ve got to do everything you can to maintain the role in which your play, of just doing well.
“I think that when you’ve been up with the first team lads like Jack Baxter and Adam (O’Reilly), they’ve set standards when they’ve come back from the first team and people from the youth team will look up to that and fit in well with it.
“You’ve constantly just got to maintain your level and it doesn’t matter if you are at the bottom or the top of the ladder, you’ve just got to keep on going and what will happen, will happen and hopefully the best things will come.”
A potential fifth round tie against Peterborough United or Bury awaits the winner of the tie and if PNE see off Norwich it will be another game at Deepdale. Walker isn’t getting too ahead of himself though and knows that the only focus is on Norwich.
“Everyone knows that Norwich are a really good club and for us to have another challenge of going against a club like that, gives us a shot to show other people of what we are capable of doing,” he continued.
“It’s good for everybody to be playing at home, three times in a row if we beat Norwich but it would be great just to be at home and have that advantage against the other club.
“There is no messing about. Everyone takes it seriously as if it was a first team game and all the lads are great. They look forward to it and everyone’s in the right mindset to do well.”
Watch the full interview with Ethan ahead of the game on iFollow PNE by clicking on the video above.