U18 coach previews third round fixtureReading’s Under-18 manager David Dodds is keenly anticipating our FA Youth Cup third round fixture this Thursday, as Under-18 Premier League North leaders Manchester City will arrive at Madejski Stadium.
The Royals currently stand second in the South table after an impressive first half of the campaign, and will aim to bring that form into the midweek cup tie.
“A coach once said to me that it’s not about worrying about what you’re not going to do right – go and show off what you can do well,” said Dodds. “I think that’s an important thing for a night like this – don’t worry about mistakes you might make, get them out of your mind, and show off what you can do well. That’s the most important thing.
“It’s a new experience – under the floodlights with management watching. We’re really looking forward to it – it should be a positive experience and it’ll tell us a lot about the lads, and I’m sure they’ll come through with flying colours.
“In the Youth Cup, you have to do well against every team that you’re drawn against – it’s a knockout competition, not a league, so if you want to get to the final you’ve got to knock these sorts of teams out. We’ll be giving it our best shot, that’s for sure.
“Unlike the FA Cup and the League Cup, you possibly only play in the Youth Cup once as a second-year scholar, or if you’re really talented you might play in the first year too. But if you talk to a lot of the experienced pros, they remember the Youth Cup with fond memories.”
As well as performing well in the U18 Premier League, many of the youngsters have been involved regularly at Under-23 level – including a handful that played against Man City’s U23s last Saturday.
Dodds believes that they have proven how capable they are already with the way they have performed when they have pushed themselves outside of their comfort zone so far this season.
“I’ve always said that the Youth Cup games, especially in the latter rounds, are the closest thing to a first-team debut – there’s a lot of hype around it and there are usually first-team staff watching the game, and a bit of a crowd, especially at home,” he continued. “You’ll find out a lot about them on the night.
“The league we’re in is the best the country, and possibly Europe because of the amount that is invested in it. So we’re looking forward to pitting our wits against another very good team. We play against teams of the highest quality each week, so it’ll be interesting.
“Seven of the Under-18s went up to Manchester at the weekend, with a few of them playing – that’s great experience. They were playing a level up, where it’s a little bit quicker in tempo. Hopefully that will put us in good stead.”
Our FA Youth Cup tie against Man City kicks off at Madejski Stadium at 7pm on Thursday 15th December.
Tickets are priced at £3 Adults and £1 Concessions and can be bought from the Ticket Office on the evening of the fixture – but you can also have your Member card or Season Ticket card loaded by buying in advance, for convenience on the night. Click here for full ticket information for this fixture.