Norwich City’s FA Youth Cup winners get taste of senior life thanks to Chris Hughton

Norwich City celebrate winning the FA Youth Cup last season. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Norwich City celebrate winning the FA Youth Cup last season. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Norwich City's young stars are getting chances with the first team set-up like never before – thanks to Chris Hughton.

The Canaries' academy returned to the elite of English football last season as their latest crop of Under-18 players lifted the FA Youth Cup for only the second time in the club's history.

The task to blood those City starlets through the embryonic Under-21 development system, brought in as part of the Premier League's new EPPP academy framework, is under way at Colney – and the target is simple.

City chief executive David McNally said: 'Chris is targeted with bringing players through from the youth academy to the first team, and he agrees that the only way in which the first team will take to the academy in the way we need them to is to look at and agree set targets. There are plenty of them who are in his thoughts.

'One of the great things with Chris is he has involved so many of those young players in training with the first team. That's never happened here before and is really helping those lads develop.

'Colin Calderwood (assistant manger) and Paul Trollope (first team coach) are also taking coaching sessions with our 14s, 15s and 16s – and you don't get that at many clubs, where the first team management are really getting hands on with the guys.

'Chris is aware of the progress or otherwise of every single member of the Under-18s, 17s, 16s groups. He takes a really keen interest and he knows what's going on.'

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The first-team bow for one of City's FA Youth Cup heroes proved worthwhile earlier this season – Josh Murphy's stunning goal sparking City's dramatic League Cup comeback at Watford last month.

City chairman Alan Bowkett added: 'It's easier for a manager not to blood a young player because he can stay with the ones he knows.

'We've assured Chris the board are in favour of taking some risk in using younger players.'