As the FA Youth Cup recommences, Norwich City Under-18s host West Ham United Under-18s at Carrow Road in the fourth round of the competition (2pm KO).
The fixture was originally due to take place in January but was delayed by the FA due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the last round of the tournament, the young Canaries impressed in a 4-2 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at St George’s Park, courtesy of an early Tony Springett goal and Abu Kamara hat-trick.
Over in the U18 Premier League, City recently beat Arsenal in a classy 4-1 win against, thanks to goals from Springett, Kamara and Tom Dickson-Peters.
Meanwhile, West Ham drew 2-2 with Aston Villa in their last outing, seeing them currently in eleventh position in the league table.
The Canaries and Hammers last met at the Little Heath Sports Ground back in December when the visitors eased to a 3-0 win over their east London based opponents, a result they’ll be hoping to replicate at Carrow Road.
Head of football development Steve Weaver believes that the game on Monday will be a testing one for the young Canaries, saying he expects a very different side to the squad they played in December.
“It’ll be a tough game, West Ham have got a history of producing good young players. We played them just before Christmas with two young sides, so I think it’ll be two very different sides on Monday, but it’s a good game and I’m glad we’ve got it at Carrow Road.
“We’re expecting a tough test, probably from players we’ve not really come across. They’ve not played some of ours, we’ve not played some of theirs, so it’ll be a tough game.”
With the U23s and U18s coming together in training for this fixture, Weaver says the preparation for this game was perfect, leaving the Canaries no excuses in any outcome.
“It’s been great, we had it a few years ago when David Wright [U23s coach] was taking the team, we had Max Aarons’ group together. We ended up getting beat in the quarter-finals to Birmingham, and that was invaluable.
“The preparation has been good, we had them together last week and played Arsenal and the performance was very good.
“We’ve got them this week leading into West Ham, so the spirits are good and win, lose or draw, we’ll have no excuses.”
But for now, the main focus is getting the tournament started again for Springett, who described the game as exciting for both him and his teammates, especially after the forward’s goal and assist against Arsenal in their last game.
“We’re really excited, when the cup got postponed, we were all really upset because we came out of the third round with that 4-2 win over Wolves as serious underdogs.
“We took a lot of confidence out of that game and the feeling that we could go really far in the competition is really exciting.
“Scoring against Arsenal last week and having this game on Monday has built my confidence up a lot, I’m not the out-and-out goalscorer, so having that goal and assist in the last game has given me a lot of confidence for this game against West Ham.”
Springett knows the value of playing this fourth-round fixture at Carrow Road too, the young forward describing it as ‘an honour’ every time the team play at the stadium.
“Playing at Carrow Road is such an honour, I’ve been playing for the club for about six years now and that’s the end goal, to play on that pitch.
“To get a little taster of what it feels like on the big stage, that’s always going to be a great honour. It’s very exciting for all of us as a team.
“We know what we can do and need to do in preparation, so we’re going to do everything we can to bring back the win, not only for ourselves, but for Norwich City.”