Norwich City's U21s target top spot against Everton's U21s at Carrow Road
PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 April 2015
Archant Norfolk 2015
Norwich City's development squad enjoyed a happier Friday night outing than their peers with another impressive 2-1 win at West Ham's Under-21s putting Paul Wilkinson's side on course for a top three finish in the elite tier of academy football.
Michee Efete celebrated his one-year professional deal with the Canaries by sealing the victory, after Reece Hall-Johnson had got the visitors back on terms.
Efete, Ray Grant and Jamie Eaton-Collins have all been rewarded with professional contract offers, with Efete and Grant set to be involved again in Monday’s latest Carrow Road development test against Everton’s under-21s (KO 7pm).
Alex Neil has the option to field three over-age players against the Toffees, with the likes of Elliott Bennett and Ryan Bennett on the comeback trail after recent injury lay-offs, and Mark Bunn featured against the Hammers in a victory that moved City’s development squad up to third, one point behind Manchester United’s young guns at the top.
City have lost only one development game in the last 13 since a 3-0 league reverse against their Everton counterparts in October.
Academy chief Gregg Broughton is appealing for another big turnout with free entry for supporters, who can claim a ticket in advance from the club’s usual outlets.
“The under-21s league is a crazy league,” he told City’s official site. “We had a position last seek where if we’d have beaten Sunderland we’d have gone second, whereas if we had lost we’d have been three points off the second relegation place.
“The crowds have made an undoubted difference to our home form. The emphasis now is on how high we can finish up the table and whether we can qualify for European competition again next season and a positive result against Everton will put us in a position to do that. If we can encourage the same size and noise of support, would be fantastic.”
Broughton is predicting a bright future for the club’s latest professional trio.
“Ray Grant is a player who a lot of the supporters will be familiar with because he’s been a regular in the under-21s for the last 12 to 18 months,” said Broughton. “He is a very intelligent ball-playing central midfielder and he has that mindset we look for in the academy of never being happy with his development, always looking to push harder and always looking to learn.
”Michee has really had a great season, and on the back of his development deserves this offer. He’s comfortable playing anywhere in a back four and he dominates players defensively one versus one, it’s very rare that you see him getting beaten.
“Jamie is an attacking player who can play anywhere in a front three or just behind the striker. His game is about pace and trickery. He’s been unfortunate with injuries since Christmas, but we wanted to back what we had seen in the first 18 months of his scholarship.”