Striker Ryan and midfielder Charlie, both second year Under-18s players, are two of the more experienced members of the squad for our fourth round tie and were both involved in last season’s run to the semi-finals of the competition.
With a big test in front of the lads against a highly-rated Boro side this evening, both Ryan and Charlie have underlined the players’ desire to put on a good performance in a bid to continue their development and take another step forward in the high-profile tournament.
“Because it’s a knockout competition there’s always a bit of added pressure when you go into each game but we like that and we’re ready for the challenge,” said Ryan, our top scorer in the Barclays Under-18 Premier League this season with eight goals.
“We beat Rotherham 4-0 in the last round which obviously gives us confidence and it was a good achievement to score four goals but we know it’s going to be tougher in round four so we’ve all got to try to bring our good form into the game.
“We always go into these matches expecting it to be tough but we’ve got to be able to deal with that and try to impose ourselves on the game to hopefully give ourselves a good chance of getting through.”
For Charlie, who has started 14 games in central midfield for our Under-18s in the league this season – more than any other player, tonight’s match represents another chance for the players to express themselves on the pitch, with the Northern Ireland Under-19 international hopeful of enjoying another extended run in the competition.
“We got to the semi-finals last year but unfortunately lost to Chelsea, but we’re training well at the moment, we’re flying into the game and we all feel like we’re ready to perform,” he said.
“A handful of players in the squad were involved last year so we know what’s expected, but everyone’s confident that we can play well against Middlesbrough and hopefully get the result.
“Ryan and I are among the oldest players in the team so it’s important that we try to set the standard and combine with some of the younger lads. The FA Youth Cup can be a good stepping stone to future success if you carry on working hard so we all hope to put on a good performance tonight.”