Match Previews

Gilbert’s grounded youngsters ready for FA Youth Cup clash

Peter Gilbert insists it will be business as usual leading into his side’s FA Youth Cup clash with Burnley despite the heightened excitement of the game.

Albion Under-18s, who have already beaten Scunthorpe United and Middlesbrough in the tournament, will take on the Clarets at Curzon Ashton’s Tameside Stadium for a space in the last eight of the competition.

And despite the increased enthusiasm for the tie, Gilbert is keen to keep a familiarity to his team’s pre-match preparations.

Gilbert said: “I treated last years’ FA Youth Cup a bit differently, it’s about knowing the group of players you have got and knowing what they react to best. I am trying to keep things with this group as normal as possible. 

“It’s another game and we’ll prepare as we would for any other game. We are trying to get the players in that mindset of ‘it is another game, we have got business to do, it’s a job, we’ll move on after it’ - almost a first-team mentality.

“You go there, you get your job done and move on to the next. No game is more important than the next. As the tie gets closer we will start to talk about it more and more.

“It was a tough game against Middlesbrough. We were a little bit frustrated with the first-half performance. I let them know at half-time that the standards they had set weren’t good enough as I know what they can achieve. The reaction was immediate in the second half and we got some early goals and put the tie to bed.

“I stressed to the players that should have been the case in the first half. I understand we had a break over Christmas so we hadn’t played for a while and it’s on The Hawthorns and it’s their first experience of the youth cup, so there’s a lot going on and you have to take that into consideration and learn from it. Thankfully we did enough in the second half - it was quite comfortable in the end.

“Burnley will be a physical team. They will work really hard and we will have to match them. It’s a night game under the lights so that is a different experience for our players, which will add a little bit to the occasion. It’s part of the learning for our players; they generally play Saturday mornings so they don’t get that exposure. It’s a great development tournament for the players.”

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