Norwich City Under-18s are on the road again, as they make the lengthy journey to face Sunderland at the Academy of Light Training Ground this Saturday (11am KO), in the U18 Premier League Cup.
A win would be big for the Canaries, taking them to four points in Group C of the tournament, after drawing with Fulham just a few weeks back, keeping the chance of progression to the quarter-finals alive.
It’s been the worst possible start for Sunderland in U18 Premier League Northern Division, losing every one of their eight games, leaving them 12th place with zero points in the table. The stats don’t look too good either, with the Northern side scoring just five and conceding 31, the worst attacking and defensive record in their league.
Connor Kiernan has been Sunderland’s most dangerous man in front of goal, scoring three of the five goals, making him the side’s top goalscorer so far this season.
In relation to the U18 Premier League Cup, Sunderland lost their first game of the group stage 1-0 to Everton, carrying their unfortunate form over from the U18 Premier League to the tournament.
The Canaries last played Sunderland back in January of the 15-16 season, resulting in a 4-1 win in the Canaries’ favour, a score the team will be hoping to replicate this Saturday.
Under-18s goalkeeper Joe Rose is in good spirits for the game, especially since it will be a first for him in many aspects. He said:
“I’m really looking forward to it, it should be a good game between us and great experience for the lads as much as every other game. Personally, I’ve never played against Sunderland before, so I’m hoping it will be a good first experience for me against them. I think if we play like we did against Chelsea [last week] in the second half then it should be a really good win for us.”
“We’re all treating this game the same as we would any other game, we’re training the same so it isn’t much different for us.
“For me, it’s really exciting, this is my debut in this particular cup so I’m hoping I do really well and impress. I think we can get far in it, and I hope we can manage to show that by beating Sunderland and making it out of the groups.”
The last game the U18s played ended in an unfortunate loss against league leaders Chelsea. Speaking on the loss, Rose highlighted the mindset he and the team share when faced with a loss.
“The Coach [Paul Williams] doesn’t mind if we don’t keep a clean sheet, or even if we lose a game. He’ll only mind and pull us up on it if we didn’t play like ourselves, but that doesn’t usually happen. If we lose, it’s fine because we just help each other out, keep everybody’s head held high and try get back that confidence as games go on and as we train.”
As a ‘keeper, clean sheets can change a players confidence, whether it be a boost or a drop in confidence. Discussing the possible objective of maintaining a clean sheet against Sunderland, Rose emphasised the main goal of just getting the win over everything.
“It’s not always likely to keep a clean sheet, so I see it as an extra. We’re just focusing on getting the win and getting the three points, if we manage to keep a clean sheet then that’s always good and is a great boost in confidence, especially for me, but I’m not worrying about it because I know our main goal is to get the win.”
You can follow all the action of the game on our dedicated Academy Twitter account.