Back at home and looking to maintain their lead as Premier League 2 leaders, Norwich City Under-23s host Middlesbrough Under-23s at the Lotus Training Centre on Friday afternoon (1pm KO).
David Wright’s side will be looking to get back to winning ways after their 2-0 loss to Leeds U23s, a side which consisted of six first-team players such as Pablo Hernandez, Ian Poveda and Raphinha.
Despite the loss, the young Canaries still find themselves at the top of the league table with 12 points after six games, two points clear of second-placed Middlesbrough, who have a game in hand.
The young Canaries will have fond memories of their last outing against Middlesbrough, taking three points from a competitive 4-3 win over the side back in January of the 2019-2020 season.
Finding the back of the net three times in the first 30 minutes, City were leading comfortably against the Boro, until early signs of a comeback took the scoring to 3-2 with 30 minutes to go.
Fortunately, now first-team starlet Josh Martin gave the Canaries another cushion to their lead, tucking away a Shae Hutchinson assist in the 67th minute, ensuring another follow-up goal from Middlesbrough would be for nothing as the City side took home all three points.
It’s been a free-scoring season so far for the Boro side, who have managed to score an impressive 13 times from just five league games. The side are defensively compact too, conceding just three times in the same amount of games.
Making his debut for the U23s just two days after playing against Chelsea for the U18s, defender Sean Stewart spoke highly of his first experience with the side, saying the team have to relish the chance to play such senior opponents.
“We just had to take the positives out of that game, the feeling in the camp this week has been calm and collected. We know we made some mistakes, but at the end of the day it’s a learning curve, we came up against some experienced players.
“Coming up against them, you learn a lot. They’re top level players and that’s where we want to get to, so it’s good to play against.
“On Sunday, I walked out, looked to my left and saw them warming up and I thought, ‘that can’t be Pablo Hernandez!’ It was just my luck on my debut to come up against Hernandez, but I’ve got to show out I can deal with players like that. I was excited to play against a player who’s done so well.”
Looking ahead to Middlesbrough, a game in which he could feature for the second-time for the U23s, Stewart says the side are up for the challenge and hope to bring Boro’s high-scoring to a stop.
“Middlesbrough is going to be another tough game, they’re second in the league and on a good run of form. We’re coming up against a really good side.
“It’s going to be difficult, but I’m looking forward to that challenge. I am a full-back who likes to attack, but I know my priority is to defend the goal first and foremost. They’ve scored 13 goals this season, so we’re looking to keep it at 13 after tomorrow.”
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