EDS & Academy

City primed for Under-17 Premier League Cup semi-final, says Wilkinson

Play the game and not the occasion.

That’s the message from head coach Ben Wilkinson to his young City charges ahead of Tuesday’s Under-17 Premier League Cup semi-final away to Sunderland.

Having impressed in amassing three wins out of three in our qualifying group, City then booked a ticket to the last four with a fine 5-2 quarter-final win over Liverpool earlier this month.

The squad is comprised of virtually all of our talented Under-18s players who have marched to the top of the Under-18 Premier League North table in such impressive fashion.

And looking ahead to the trip to the North East, Wilkinson said the message was to seek to maintain the high standards that have helped us move five points clear in the league with our latest success a fine 2-1 win at Blackburn on Saturday.

“Everyone is really looking forward to it and quietly confident,” said Wilkinson.

“We’re going into the game in pretty decent form.

“We had a good result at the weekend though obviously we had a blip at Fulham the Under-18 Cup a couple of weeks ago but, other than that, since Christmas we have played really well and put some good performances together.

“It’s a good game for us – it’s a semi-final and they are the sort of games that the boys want to be playing in and everyone is really looking forward to the occasion.

“We have been really consistent with what we have done in recent weeks in terms of how we have asked the boys to play.

“It has been challenging at times as we have to adapt to different things, and conditions haven’t been great, but we have been really consistent with our processes in terms of having as much intensity about us as we can.

“The key is to try and get better game by game and try take the fact that it’s a semi final out of the equation.”

If City were in need of any extra incentive, the players will also be seeking to atone for the frustration of having exited both the FA Youth Cup and Under-18 Premier League Cup since the New Year.

And with City also stepping up our quest for back-to-back Under-18 Premier League North titles, the head coach said it was shaping up to be an exciting finale to the season.

“In terms of cup competitions, now we are only left in one so we want to try and make sure that we win it and try and get a competition in the bag so to speak,” Wilkinson added.

“Because of the standards we set, we want to try and win and compete in every single competition we enter.

“We believe we have a group of players who are capable of that and I think the performances and results this season have largely backed that up.

“We have played Sunderland in the league and watched a couple of their games in this competition. It will be a leveller being played at their place.

“Historically we know what Sunderland will be about. They will be really competitive and bring a lot of intensity and obviously it’s a massive game for them too.

“They will bring a lot of energy to the game, and we have to be good enough to cope with that and play our way.

“So, there’s definitely a determination to try and win the game and look to go on to win the tournament.”

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