Under-18s head coach ready for Blades clash at Madejski StadiumUnder-18s head coach David Dodds is expecting a tough test from Sheffield United in Tuesday evening's FA Youth Cup clash with the Blades at Madejski Stadium (kick-off 7pm).
The Royals, who enter the tournament at the third round stage, will face a United side who have already progressed at the expense of Bradford and Chesterfield in previous rounds, so Dodds is not taking the opposition lightly.
“We’ve seen Sheffield United; they’re a really decent team so we’re expecting a tough game,” said Dodds. “We’re going to treat them with the utmost respect on the night because we know they’re capable of winning the game.
“They’ve come through a couple of difficult rounds already against Bradford and Chesterfield so they’re in the groove. Our boys now need to go out there and do what’s required.”
The Royals, who currently sit second in the Barclays Under-18 Premier League South, are in good form heading into the fixture after winning four of their last five in the league and drawing the other. Dodds, however, believes the Youth Cup can be used as a platform for the youngsters to gain new and valuable experiences.
He continued, “The Youth Cup is a great experience for the lads, it’s really important. In our opinion it’s the closest thing to the experience of a first-team debut for the players, because of the hype surrounding the tournament. It’s a good chance to see how some of them perform under pressure in front of a crowd at the Madejski.”
Seeing the progression of the Academy players is important to the Under-18s coach and nothing encapsulates this progression more than Royals youngster Josh Barrett. The 17-year-old, who started the season captaining the U18s and signed his first professional contract in October, has progressed in to Under-21s side in recent weeks. After impressing at that level, the youngster was named on the bench for the Royals' senior squad when they travelled up to Preston on Saturday.
“The boys have done well this season and performance levels are good," Dodds continued. "We’ve had a few progress up to the Under-21s and one up to the first team already this season so it’s all about how they progress and develop.
“The objective for us at this level isn’t all about winning leagues and cups, but having players progress through the ranks and get as many playing for the first team as possible. It’s great to have a good run in the league and a good cup run, but we’re always looking at who we can help through to eventually represent Reading at first-team level.”
Make sure you come along and support the young Royals on Tuesday evening as they look to progress to the fourth round. The 7pm kick-off will have Adult tickets priced at £3 and Concessions just £1 which can be bought on the turnstiles; you can find out more information on the fixture by clicking here.