Reds set for Youth Cup tie at Norwich
Manchester United Under-18s lead coach Neil Ryan is eagerly anticipating tonight's return to action in the FA Youth Cup.
The Reds face Norwich City's youngsters at Carrow Road in a 19:00 GMT kick-off, which will be shown live on MUTV.
The victors in the fourth-round tie will meet Leeds United at home in the next stage of the competition.
United defeated Lincoln City 2-0 in the previous round, with Dutch striker Dillon Hoogewerf scoring both goals.
“It's a historic trophy for us as an Academy, and as a club with the youth system,” Ryan told us.
“I think, regardless of what you try to do to protect the boys from that, at times, the hype that comes with it is hard to hide from. It becomes a big thing for them - obviously the families, all the club staff and first-team staff come to watch, and some of them can build it up in their heads a bit too much. But that's the whole process of it.
“It's what you want. You want them to get used to big ties and the big fixtures and go and perform on the night, that's the important thing.
“We want to get them in as many stadiums and play in these games under the floodlights. It's a cup tie, anything can happen. Regardless of what their form is in the league, a lot of players in the Under-23s go back to play in the youth teams. You've seen the same with us, as a couple of players have done that. It's exciting to play in a league ground.
“Hopefully, it will be a decent-sized crowd and we just want to put our boys in, not a pressured environment, but take them out of their comfort zone and put them in that cup-tie feeling and see how the boys perform under that pressure.”
In terms of the squad, it is possible some of those who have gained Under-23s experience will be involved on the night, and the injury situation is improving.
“We'll see where we are at with that,” he added.
“With young players that are pushing on to the Under-23s, most top clubs bring back their best players. One player we could have had would be Mason Greenwood but I'm pretty sure he'll be ruled out due to being with the first-team squad!
“All the rest are up for consideration for the team. The experience that they've got at Under-23s level should hold them in good stead as a number of our boys have gone up and played up there.
Solskjaer's message to Youth Cup squadVideo
“We've had quite a few boys out with long-term injuries which has been really frustrating for them. But we've got a couple coming back now who have started non-contact training. They will go into full-contact training to build up their fitness levels over a period of time and get back into the games programme.
“So the numbers become bigger again with the squad. Everyone is challenging for a position to play but we still have a few players out. We'll still have to be patient with them but it's part and parcel of being a footballer but the signs are encouraging with the boys coming back.”
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