Martin's success story can motivate kids

CHRIS LAKEY The man in charge of Norwich City's Academy programme has urged the club's stars of tomorrow to use Chris Martin as their inspiration. Martin will be in the crowd tonight for the Academy showpiece fund-raiser against Scottish giants Celtic, watching youngsters who are treading the path he has taken to club and, now, international glory.

CHRIS LAKEY

The man in charge of Norwich City's Academy programme has urged the club's stars of tomorrow to use Chris Martin as their inspiration.

Martin will be in the crowd tonight for the Academy showpiece fund-raiser against Scottish giants Celtic, watching youngsters who are treading the path he has taken to club and, now, international glory.

And Academy boss Ricky Martin believes the Beccles youngster's rise to fame is the perfect incentive for his young charges.


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“We have got to use him as an inspiration,” he said. “Chris has been there already, he has been in the same dressing rooms, he has been through the same system and development. He has done all the Tuesday and Thursday night training sessions as a schoolboy, just like the boys who will be playing against Celtic are doing at the moment.

“When you have someone who is being successful and you can make it relative to the boys you are working with, the message is a strong one.

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“The club has players who have been through youth systems, but we have in Chris someone who has been through our own scheme. All of the squad will have trained alongside him this season - and now he is scoring in FA Cup matches and for England.”

Martin made his debut for England Under-19s on Wednesday and continued to write his own headlines with the only goal of the game against Turkey - a debut which didn't surprise his Academy boss.

“Not at all,” said Martin. “He is obviously having a very successful time and he has to enjoy it. There will be ups and downs - so while he is doing well he needs to take full advantage.”

Martin's playing progress won't have escaped any of the youngsters running out at Carrow Road tonight, but their thoughts at 7.30pm will be solely on their Celtic opponents - a team chosen before Canaries manager and former Bhoys favourite Peter Grant moved to Norwich.

“We asked Celtic because we play against the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal during the season anyway and we wanted something special and something different,” said Martin. “We asked Celtic and Rangers, but Celtic were pro-active quickly, and when Peter Grant was announced as our new gaffer I had to have a quiet laugh. When I met him I told him we were trying to get Celtic down here and he said not to worry, he's sort it out. Very soon Tommy Burns, who was first class, was on the phone confirming it would happen.”

While the players are all from the same age group, there is one subtle difference: Celtic, like teams from most other European countries, select from boys born after January 1, while in England, the cut-off is September 1.

“They will pick, a team of players born after January 1, 1991, while ours will be September and what is does throw up is a different bias from a selection point of view,” explained Martin. “You will find many countries have a higher percentage of players born in January, February and March, where we have lads born in September, October and November. The players are the same age but you will find other countries have a stronger age group. The lads that are older are sometimes more out-going, more confident, maybe they can handle the experience of it all better than the younger ones.

“It just makes it a little more interesting from our point of view really. What we have is a game against a really big name club, with a nice touch of England versus Scotland rivalry thrown in.”

Martin has lost the service of central defender Danny Kelly, who has joined up with the Republic of Ireland Under-17s in Germany as a last-minute replacement for the injured James O'Brien of Birmingham for the UEFA qualifying group matches, joining over-age players Gareth Matthews and Kurtis Byrne.

“Danny would have had an impact and it's a shame to lose him, but you lose him, as it were, for the right reasons,” said Martin.

Nick Davey will be hoping to repeat his performance against Hungarian side Ferencvaros last August when he scored the winner as the young Canaries sealed their age group at the Foyle Cup in Derry. The Wisbech youngster has played for the Under-18s this season and has accepted a scholarship for next season.

In goal will be Declan Rudd, who will be in France over Easter with England Under-16s for the Montaigu tournament following his trip with the same squad in Slovenia for a friendly.

Full-back Davey Cooper has also accepted a scholarship and those three players, plus central midfielder Korey Smith, will be expected to help along the younger players.

“They have a little bit more experience and I will be looking for them to guide some of the others through,” said Martin. “But they all go out with the same message, to express themselves. I wouldn't be putting them out there if I didn't think they could go and perform and do themselves and our Academy justice

“I have a lot of faith in them, and I know they will return that faith by proving what a talented group they are.

“Ian Thornton and Dean Rastrick, who only joined us earlier this season, have also played a big part in their progress and we have seen a big improvement which we hope will pay off tomorrow.”

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