Mike Sheron says Rovers’ youngsters are looking forward to the resumption of their FA Youth Cup campaign, as his Under-18s side prepare to face Arsenal.
Rovers booked their place in the fourth round courtesy of a 1-0 win away to Carlisle United back in December, whilst the Gunners won 2-1 away at Rotherham, before the competition was temporarily suspended due to Covid restrictions.
However, as the country prepares to exit the latest lockdown, the prestigious youth tournament has been given the green light to resume, with Rovers welcoming Arsenal to Ewood Park tomorrow lunchtime, kick-off 12 noon.
Sheron’s side head into the fourth round tie in a rich vein of form, having won their last five games in all competitions, and they will be looking to record a repeat result of their 4-1 triumph over the Gunners at the quarter-final stage last season.
“I’m delighted to see that there’s been positive news in the last couple of weeks that it’s going to be up and running again,” said Sheron, who wants his side to seize their opportunity.
“Being a scholar, you only get two chances to play in the FA Youth Cup, so to have it taken away from them was quite galling, but we’ve got it back again and we’re hoping to make the most of it. It’s a great part of their development, which is what we’re in this business for.
“I didn’t think we were great at Carlisle in the last round, but we scored a good goal and we got through, so credit to the lads. We managed to keep a clean sheet, which was a real positive, because it’s something we’ve struggled with this season, and it was a battle. We don’t play against Category 3 clubs too many times and they made it really difficult for us.
“We all know what sort of club Arsenal are, they’re a fantastic club. It’s a big club and they’ll have some really talented and athletic players, and I’m sure they’ll be smarting from what happened to them last year in the quarter-finals.
“Sometimes we have a bit of an inferiority complex at times, but it’s important to remember that it’s only youth football and it’s 11 against 11. Belief and confidence has been high lately, so we’re looking forward to the challenge.
“The game is back at Ewood Park, which is great, because the lads don’t get too many opportunities to play at Ewood, so they’re really looking forward to it and it’s important that they take that opportunity and they try to show the best sides of themselves.
“It was great to see the journey the lads went on last year and how their confidence and performance level progressed, both individually and as a team, as the run went on and the plan is to try and repeat that this year as well.”
Kick-off at Ewood Park is at 12 noon tomorrow (Saturday Match 20th). The game will be played behind closed doors, but supporters can follow live updates on our social media channels.