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Kids target semis

Posted on 11 March 2002  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Pat Holland is preparing our Academy under-18 side for their crunch FA Youth Cup quarter-final against Blackburn at the Lane on Tuesday evening and would welcome a healthy support from Spurs fans as Cup hit Jamie Slabber (pictured) and the team chase a semi-final spot.

The boys have blazed a trail to the last eight, overcoming tough tests on the road. Walsall, Bolton and Leeds have been accounted for and now the challenge of Blackburn awaits, a team who have seen off Arsenal in getting to this stage.

"They must do," said Pat when asked if Spurs fans should come out in force to support the team. "The kids need it as well. They want a crowd, they've got to get used to it. The big disadvantage for young players is that they don't experience a big crowd earlier enough for me.

"Hopefully, one day, they are going to be playing in front of big crowds. They've just got to get used to that little bit of pressure."

Pat says turning up to watch the youth team is all about fans forming their own opinions about the prospects of players striving to break through into the senior ranks.

"I think they should look out for all the players. That's the lovely thing about football, people can form their own opinion about players when they look at a team.

"Supporters should come and look at the youth side. It was a big thing when I was a kid, especially with the reserves on a Saturday afternoon. Supporters would watch the first team one week and the reserves the next.

"They see the potential coming through, or lack of it. You can see a young lad coming through and watch him develop.

"It's great for the kids that people are looking and it would be great for the club if we get another Ledley King, Stephen Carr or Stephen Clemence - or Nicky Barmby. All kids that have come through the youth side and gone on to do well in the game."

Blackburn are something of an unknown quantity at present, due to the fact that Pat has been unable to get a video of them in action.

"We're trying to get a video of them at the moment. They played the Arsenal and, unfortunately, there wasn't a video taped.

"So a visual picture of them I haven't got at the moment, which proved handy for the Leeds and Bolton games. It gives me a mental picture of how they play and the type of boys they've got in the side.

All I'm going on basically is a match report that Pete Suddaby (Academy director) did for me, as he watched them at Arsenal.

"From what I can gather they are a good strong side, physically strong, well organised.

"Someone mentioned that they could be favourites for the actual trophy itself. Arsenal beat them in the final last year so they've got a good record at that level.

"Speaking to people they say they will give us a good match around the park and that both the strikers are quite lively."

Pat reasons that after three successful trips in the competition so far, playing at White Hart Lane could bring its own pressures.

"It'll be a good test for us - and another test will be playing at Spurs, which the kids haven't experienced. Sometimes that can be a bit daunting, we've seen it backfire with some young players when they've played at the Lane and they find it a bit too much.

"They've got to learn to deal with that."

Pat says that the cup exploits of the boys has created a welcome buzz around the Academy as the big night on Tuesday draws closer.

"Yes it has, I think so and it's been excellent. It's been good for me as well because sometimes if you're not top of your section - although we've half a chance - it can make your season go a bit longer and I think that creeps into the players as well.

"All teams like to have something to go for and what it's done is give us a nice goal. The incentive is the semi-final over two legs.

"There is a lot of satisfaction in it, but it is development I look at more than anything. It'll be nice for us."

The Youth Cup tie against Blackburn takes place at the Lane on Tuesday March 12, kick-off 7pm. Admission £3 adults, £1 concessions.