Norwich City academy chief Ricky Martin’s rally call ahead of FA Youth Cup tie with Chelsea
Norwich City academy chief Ricky Martin is under no illusions what to expect from Chelsea's high rollers in tonight's FA Youth Cup fourth round tie at Carrow Road (7pm).
Chelsea's bid to knock out the Canaries looks poised to be spearheaded by the prodigiously talented Nathaniel Chalobah. The 17-year-old England Youth international signed a two-and-a-half year professional contract with the Blues earlier this month after making the bench for Andre Villas-Boas' aristocrats in the recent Premier League win at Wolves. Martin's young Canaries impressed on home soil with a 5-0 thumping of Oldham U18s in the previous round, and Norwich's academy boss is appealing for home fans to turn out in force once again.
'I know there are plenty of games going on at first-team level at the minute, but it'd be great to have some fans down there to support the lads, they do really appreciate it,' said Martin.
'Any support we can get to give us a helping hand in beating Chelsea will be greatly appreciated. We're playing Chelsea football club.
'If you play any Chelsea team, whether it's at U18s or the first team, it's going to be a tough game and they will cause us problems. We understand that and we just have to make sure we go out there and cause them a few problems. We're not turning up to get beaten, we're going there to win and give them a run for their money.'
Norwich's academy squad lost 2-0 to Chelsea's U18s in London just before Christmas, but Martin believes competing against the best in sudden death knockout football is the perfect breeding ground to test his young charges.
'It was a game of two halves,' he said. 'We were poor in the first-half and they started to get on top. Their possession took its toll and we found ourselves 2-0 down after 33 minutes. 'We then created a couple of half chances before the break and should have scored, but we were much more competitive in the second half.
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'Not all the clubs support the FA Youth Cup in the same way. Some of the bigger clubs play at non league grounds; we played at Everton a few years ago and that was potentially a big game just before the quarter-final and it was at a non league ground.
'That is not maybe right, so it's great to be at home where the club fully support it. It's all about giving them experience and making them comfortable.'
City already know they will host a third consecutive home tie this season in the fifth round against either West Ham or Brighton if they can edge past the Blues, who beat Doncaster U18s 2-1 to earn a trip to Carrow Road.
'It's nice to know the next round draw, but at the end of the day it's about this game so that's what we'll concentrate on,' Martin told the club's official site.
'If we win the game it's nice to know that we're at home in the next round. We've got to win the game first. We've got to go out against Chelsea, give everything we can, and be focused. Let's hope we create the same amount of chances we did against Arsenal on Saturday (a 1-0 home defeat), but can put some in the back of the net, and if we do that we should be ok.'