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Blues fans can fix it for Jim

Jim Cassell 0809

Jim Cassell 0809

JIM CASSELL would dearly love City fans to give him another night to remember - because that would mean the Boy Blues had beaten the odds to keep the FA Youth Cup they won against Chelsea last April.

Only Arsenal and Liverpool have successfully defended the trophy in the last 30 years, and if City get past a strong Norwich team in today's quarter-final they have to tackle a tough Arsenal outfit over two legs.

But Academy manager Cassell has faith in the latest crop of talented City youngsters - as well as the Blues supporters he hopes will pack the City of Manchester Stadium this afternoon to cheer them into the last four.

Jim said: "It won't be straightforward, because this Norwich squad looks good - I watched them beat Everton in the last round at Goodison and we will have to play at full pace if we want to beat them.

"But home advantage will be a factor, particularly if we get a good turn-out of fans. That would be fantastic.

"It would be great for our supporters to see what's going on at our level. I can't praise them or thank them enough for the 20,000 who turned up to cheer us on in the final against Chelsea last year.

"After your children and the other corny things that you say, that was without doubt the best night of my life. I really hope that we can repeat it this year."

Four of last season's winning team remain - skipper Andrew Tutte, centre-back Dedryck Boyata, right-back Kieran Trippier and striker Robbie Mak - and City's Under-18s are unbeaten in 23 league and cup matches.

But Norwich have impressed Cassell, who was at White Hart Lane on Thursday night to see an Arsenal side including boy wonder Jack Wilshire recover from a goal down to beat Tottenham 3-1 for a place in the last eight.

Cassell said: "When Norwich won at Everton in the last round, their goalkeeper, Declan Rudd, was outstanding. He looked as if he would challenge anybody in his age group. He gives their whole team confidence."

Rudd saved three spot kicks in the Goodison penalty shoot-out but will need to be on his toes against Mak and Nimely, whose goals have helped to sweep aside Swansea, Portsmouth and Newcastle in this year's competition.

Jim added: "We know we have to be absolutely tuned in to our game. We've done well so far this year, and if your players play well enough, the chances are you'll get the rub of the green, but it's going to be a tough one.

"This group are capable of beating anybody on their day. But even getting into the last eight as holders is an achievement. The greatest achievement would be to retain it."

The Boy Blues, who beat Chelsea 4-2 on aggregate to lift the trophy, have now gone 11 Youth Cup ties without defeat since losing on penalties at Millwall in 2006-07. "And we should have won that night," said Cassell.

Tickets for the 2pm kick-off are £5 for adults and £2 for juniors.   

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