Big crowd expected as Norwich City U23s take on Sunderland in Premier League International Cup semi-final

Todd Cantwell, pictured scoring a late penalty in the 6-0 win over Zagreb, is likely to be involved

Todd Cantwell, pictured scoring a late penalty in the 6-0 win over Zagreb, is likely to be involved for Norwich City U23s in the International Cup tonight. Picture by Matthew Usher/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Matthew Usher/Focus Images Ltd

Football returns to Carrow Road tonight when Norwich City Under-23s take on Sunderland in the semi-finals of the Premier League International Cup.

Over 2,500 spectators attended City's quarter-final thrashing of Dinamo Zagreb II at Carrow Road in February, when a Kyle Lafferty braced helped the U23s win, and another big crowd is expected tonight (7pm kick-off). Porto await the winners in the final but the young Canaries must first focus on Sunderland, who are on course for a mid-table finish in Division One of Premier League Two.

City are languishing at the bottom of Division Two and have enjoyed most of their best moments of the season in cup competitions, with a Premier League Cup quarter-final against Liverpool awaiting in Chester on Monday night.

'Our boys are really looking forward to it, they look in pretty good shape and they're in decent form as a group,' academy manager Richard Money said ahead of tonight's tie.

'I think it will be a really even game. Sunderland have got a pretty strong group and they did particularly well in the league last year. It's going to be a tough one but you'd expect that in a semi-final.


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'It's not just this cup competition but the Premier League Cup as well, where we play Liverpool on Monday. It's given us a really good games programme for the end of the season so let's see if we can take it a step forward in both competitions.'

Norwich were the only club to emerge from the group stages of the International Cup with a 100 per cent record, after beating Valencia, Celtic and Aston Villa.

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Sunderland beat Benfica and PSV Eindhoven before being held to a draw at Derby in the group stages, then beating Athletic Bilbao 2-0 at the Stadium of Light in the quarter-finals.

'I think the big thing for me is that Porto have won the other semi-final,' Money continued, speaking to City's official website.

'Whoever wins this semi-final will most likely be at home to Porto in the final, and obviously if it was to be us we could look forward to a real bumper crowd.

'If we want to get there, then we need a bumper crowd this Friday to help us.'

Tickets for tonight's match are free, see canaries.co.uk for full details. If you can't make the game, follow updates at pinkun.com from 6.30pm.

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