Neil Ross pre-FA Youth Cup: “If they’re performing well, the pathway will be there”

Neil Ross’ U18s FA Youth Cup squad consists of several players he’s monitoring for progression into the U21s, confirmed the manager, after winning all three of their pre-season friendlies.

A trip to Brighouse Town in the cup opens the U18s’ season on Wednesday having beaten Stockport County, Bradford City Development and Buxton in pre-season.

Rhys Toft and Jacob Smith have been regulars in the U23s this pre-season while TJ Kongolo and Harry Emery have been playing for the U21s.

“There’s a number of players we’ve looked at, we just don’t want to rush them too soon, they’ve got a few good results under their belts, we’ll see how the FA Youth Cup game goes on Wednesday. We’ve told every one of these players that if they’re performing well, the pathway will be there for the 21s and the 23s, and into the first team. It’s about managing them properly, making sure they’re still developing as players and making sure they’re not thrown in too soon, denting their confidence and affecting the day-to-day stuff.

“The next step is 21s football. We need to see them in more men’s football to see how they’re performing. It’s obviously taken a while for the likes of Wilfred and Jacob to break into the 21s, 23s so they need to be performing week in week out, whether it’s the 18s, 19s, 21s, 23s. It’s not going to be ‘you’ve had a couple of good games, we’ll throw you straight into the 23s’ because they need to know that step up and every player needs to realise they’ve got to perform and be above and beyond what we’ve got in the 21s to go into the next step into the 23s.

“So there’s definitely opportunities for them – and there will be opportunities for them”.

The Yorkshire Payments Stadium hosts the U18s’ FA Youth Cup Preliminary round, kicking off at 7:30 pm. Tickets are £5 for adults, £3 for concessions.