By Jamie Spoor
Brighton and Hove Albion’s up and coming youngsters will be thrust into the spotlight tonight when they take on Premier League Academy side Aston Villa.
Image courtesy of empics
The FA Youth Cup third-round tie will see Martin Hinshelwood’s Under 18s make their Amex bow, bidding for a place in the fourth round alongside such giants as Chelsea, Arsenal and cup-holders Manchester United.
Hinshelwood has a full-strength squad to pick from, and while none of the players on show are household names, the stars of the future will be keen to prove a point and claim a notable scalp.
Under 18s boss Hinshelwood said: “This is the first time our youth team will be playing at the Amex and I’m confident they can rise to the challenge against a strong Villa side.
“This will be the first opportunity of playing in a top-class stadium for most of our boys and with a big crowd behind us, hopefully we can get the desired result and progress into the fourth round of a prestigious competition.”
Tony McAndrew’s young Villas are currently seventh in Group B of the Academy Premier League, with the Seagulls sitting pretty at the summit of the Football League Youth Alliance South-East Division.
Hinshelwood added: “It’s a great tie, not only are they a Premier League club with a great history, but they have produced a lot of first team and international England players in the past.”
Villa’s youth and reserve team have a renowned reputation for producing some of the country’s finest talent, with current starlets such as Gabby Agbonlahor; Marc Albrighton; now-Bolton defender Gary Cahill; and Nathan Delfouneso all progressing from the Academy to the top level of the English game.
League form goes out the window in cup ties, though, with academy captain Tom Vickers looking forward to the challenge of taking on the relative might of the Villains.
Vickers said: “We’ve heard a lot about them and while we know they’re a good team with very good players, we don’t fear them. We’re unbeaten in 12 league games this season , we had a bit of a dodgy run earlier in the season, but that’s behind us now.
“We’re the home side, we’ll have plenty of fans supporting us [approx 4,000], it’s down to us and we won’t change the way we play, we’re looking forward to it. We’re the underdogs in this game, which will suit us; the pressure is more on Villa, definitely.”
The game kicks off at 7. 30pm at the Amex, there is no pay on the gate and a full matchday train service will be in operation.