Neil Adams urges Norwich City’s new breed to be fearless ahead of FA Youth Cup fourth round trip to Watford
Norwich City's Under-18s chief Neil Adams predicts Saturday's FA Youth Cup fourth round tie at Watford could be one for the purists (KO 1pm).
The Canaries' toiled for 90 minutes in their first game since the club lifted the trophy last season before eventually thumping Preston's under-18s 6-1 at Deepdale after extra-time. Adams expects a marked improvement against a cultured Hornets' squad and an academy which has previously developed the likes of Manchester United Ashley Young.
'They are a good side. We have had them watched and I have watched them myself. We know what we are up against,' said Adams. 'If we play to our potential and our capabilities then we would be confident of having a good chance to go through. If we don't, we can quite easily be knocked out. Watford have a very good academy, it's well organised and well respected. Preston were more of a direct team. They wanted to play the long ball to a big centre forward and we knew we would be up against that, but they gave us big problems. Watford is a passing side. They play it on the ground and try to get it to feet so it is probably one we are more used to on a weekly basis playing the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham.'
Adams admitted his powers of motivation were tested at Preston before watching his latest crop cut deliver.
'I just said it wasn't good enough and they had to pick it up and fortunately they did,' he said. 'I can put it down to nerves and a lack of confidence but playing at a ground under lights is different to the training ground every week. It doesn't matter how good they think they are it is only then when you found out if they can handle it. Whether it was nerves, a lack of confidence or a little lack of quality we didn't play in that 90 minutes anywhere near what we can do. We will be using that 90 minutes in the Watford team talk, but you can also focus on the positive of how good we were in extra-time. They will be fully prepared.'
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Carlton Morris celebrated his Preston brace with a first professional contract, which underlined the work of Adams and the rest of Norwich's academy staff.
'Ultimately it is not about winning the FA Youth Cup at this level but producing players good enough for the first team,' he said. 'We have to prepare them and give them the tactical knowledge so they are ready if Chris Hughton wants to pick them. You look at someone like Josh Murphy and he has not looked a fish out of water when he has been called upon this season. That gives everyone at the academy a big boost.
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'We signed eight at the end of last year and Carlton has done enough in his second year not to have to wait until the end of his second year to join them. Everyone saw his quality last season. He is an excellent centre forward. He is big, can hold the ball up and he scores goals as well. It is richly-deserved for him to get a professional contract and he has to go and get his next one. That is the challenge now. There is no need for him to rest on his laurels. I said to him, Well done, now go and get the next one'.'