THE YOUTH CUP is always regarded as the biggest competition for under-18 boys up and down the country. It is a much respected competition.
In recent years the FA have suggested changing the age date slightly from the 1st of September under-18 barrier to come into line with European rules.
A good Youth Cup run doesn't automatically mean that there is going to be players in there of first team value. If you look over the years, usually one or two players can emerge from that group into the first team football.
In the last couple of years, for example, Arsenal have done very well at Youth Cup level, but only Jermaine Pennant, who was a signed player, has emerged to really challenge from that group so far. Although we should not discount the progress of Ashley Cole and the others.
Contrast that to West Ham United, who won the cup emphatically against Coventry over two legs a couple of years ago. From that team the likes of Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Adam Newton have come through and done well in senior football.
Players do come through from this environment.
Hopefully, from the group that plays Everton, and we wish them well over the two legs, there will be players who graduate and do well at Tottenham. But, it is very difficult at this stage to put your hat on any one player.
It is for that reason that each player must work very hard at his own game and battle to come through. It is very hard, but that is the kind of pressure they will find over the next couple of years.
Director of football David Pleat offers his take on the value of the Youth Cup ahead of Wednesday evening's semi-final first leg at Everton.