Norwich City youngster Harvey Hodd aims to lead from the front on FA Youth Cup duty
Norwich City's academy midfielder Harvey Hodd wants another taste of the high life as the Canaries look to progress at Watford's expense on Saturday afternoon.
The 18-year-old featured at Stamford Bridge in the closing stages of last season's memorable two-legged final win against Chelsea and Hodd knows the onus is on the survivors from the club's first FA Youth Cup triumph in 30 years to lead from the front.
'It was a good for me to play a part last year. I got a taste of what it was all about,' he said. 'This time around as a second year along with a few others we have to lead the younger lads and show them the right path. I think in ourselves the older boys knew that was what we had to do this time around. We don't need Neil (Adams) or the academy staff to tell us that. We learned that from the likes of Cameron McGeehan, the Murphs (Josh and Jacob Murphy) and Harry Toffolo who drove us on last year. We kind of looked up to them as role models and we have to take that mantle. It was unbelievable really. The crowds we got, the media attention, it was something totally different. This year I want to push on a bit and stake my claim to be in the starting XI, but we can take a lot of things from that experience.'
Hodd and his team mates have to carry the burden of being the defending winners, which he felt may have been a factor in a difficult opening defence against Preston's Under-18s. Adams' squad required extra-time before over-powering a battling North End side 6-1 at Deepdale.
'I think there was an element of that and its only natural whoever we play will target us because the club won it last year,' said Hodd. 'That was a scare for us. We didn't play to our full potential up there. It was difficult. They had threats and we struggled to deal with them so, yes, we would hope to play better this time around. I don't think we stuck to our game plan as much as we could have done at Preston. I hope we have learned from that experience. Maybe there was a bit of nerves because it was the first game defending the trophy and that was always going to be hard, but our football ability came through.'
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Fellow FA Youth Cup winner Carlton Morris struck a brace at Deepdale, since when the striker has signed his first professional contract. Hodd admits the progress of his team mate acts as a major incentive.
'Carlton is five days younger than me so it shows we are there or thereabouts and if we perform well it is there for the taking,' he said. 'You look at the Murphs, who are now in and around the first team, and that shows there is a clear path if we work hard and get our heads down and perform well. All the first team staff come and watch this competition. It is great to know the gaffer is there and supporting us and you obviously want to do well to impress him.'
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