City teenager ready to take on Canaries

JONATHAN REDHEAD While Norwich City's Carling Cup draw at home to Barnet might not set pulses racing for too many people, for one Norfolk teenager, it is a dream come true.


While Norwich City's Carling Cup draw at home to Barnet might not set pulses racing for too many people, for one Norfolk teenager, it is a dream come true.

Norwich born and bred James Cole is even prepared to beg to get on to the Carrow Road pitch on August 14 and play against the team he has followed since childhood.

The 19-year-old centre-back has just signed a one-year professional deal with the Bees after impressing manager Paul Fairclough during the last year he has spent with the club.

And now he is hoping the footballing Gods are looking down on him once more after handing him the possibility to play against the Canaries - in potentially his professional debut.

Cole is yet to step out for the first team other than in the Herts Senior Cup, but he will stop at nothing to make sure he can get to tackle the likes of Robert Earnshaw, Darren Huckerby and Dion Dublin.

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“I've got my fingers crossed,” he said. “I am going to work really hard in pre-season to get the manager's attention and even if I'm not selected I'm going to beg to get selected because I'd love to play against Norwich.

“I'd love to do that at Carrow Road as well. Fingers crossed.”

As well as playing against the Canaries, Cole has lofty ambitions for his footballing future.

“I'll be training with the first team and have nothing to do with the youth team any more and just see what goes from there really,” he said.

“Pre-season I'm going to do my best and try to get his (Fairclough's) attention and hopefully get in the squad and then the team.

“That's my aim. My aim is to develop as quickly as I can football-wise and body-wise and get noticed as quickly as I can and get in the team - first in the 15 and then the starting 11.

“Then I want to get to the top as soon as possible.”

The teenager is a product of Easton College's football programme and while he was completing his two-year national diploma and also turning out for City reserves against their Ipswich counterparts, Cole attracted the eye of Barnet scouts. Back at the College this week, he revealed how his chance with the Coca-Cola League Two side came about.

“I've just signed a one year professional contract with a year optional after that, if they want that is,” Cole said.

“It started off when I came here for two years in the football programme, and the second year, we played their youth development team.

“I think one of their managers spotted me and asked me to go down there for a trial at the end of the season. So I went down for the trial and was successful and went down for a whole year, playing for their youth team and caught the first team manager's eye, so he signed me up.

“I had a whole year in the youth team and a couple of games with the first team in the Herts Senior Cup. They haven't got a reserve team any more.

“It was really good. I learned a lot - living on my own and football wise, but it was fun.”

The affable former Framingham Earl High School pupil is full of praise for staff at Easton College for helping him earn his contract.

“I did a two-year course, a national diploma course, on the football programme,” he said. “It's more about the coaches than anything really, because they pushed me on to do harder and better things. I think if they hadn't done that, I probably wouldn't be where I am now.

“They told me the right things to do in a match and the right things to do in class as well. I've got a diploma in sport, which I passed here, so if football doesn't work out, I can go into PE teaching or coaching.”