Ricky Duncan wants fans to get behind the young Blues tonight
Academy Manager Ricky Duncan is encouraging Southend United fans to head to Roots Hall and support the U18s as they begin their FA Youth Cup campaign on Monday evening.
Blues host Leverstock Green in the First Round of the 2014/15 competition, and Duncan is eager to welcome supporters to see the next generation of youngsters.
The FA Youth Cup aided the development of Academy graduates such as Franck Moussa, Kane Ferdinand, Daniel Bentley and Jack Payne, and Duncan sees this as a chance for fans to get a first look at the new crop.
“Like every year I say come along and watch. Just because we’re Southend United doesn’t mean we’re going to win every game, but it’s a chance to see the young boys who are hopefully going to come through into the first team in two or three years’ time,” he said in an interview for the matchday programme.
“If you come along on Monday, you’ll be able to see that you’ve seen them at 16- or 17-years-old, which I think is important. It gives the boys the chance to feel what it’s like to have a crowd behind them at Roots Hall, and even 200 inside will sound like thousands to them because they usually play at Boots & Laces.”
“People come to watch at the training ground, but it’s not the same effect as you get when you’ve got a stadium around you. We need to give them the experience of what that’s like, that that’s why I like The FA Youth Cup when you get home games; it gives them that experience and a taste of first-team football, which is fantastic for them,” he added.
And the boss, who has twice overseen runs to the Fifth Round of the competition during ten seasons in his second spell with Southend, believes that the experience will be invaluable for his scholars.
“The thing that sets it apart for me is that they get the chance to play at that stadium in front of the fans. We’re a youth policy and we’re here to develop players,” he remarked.
“What this represents is it’s another stage in their development; it gives them the opportunity to play in that stadium and play in front of the chairman and the manager and the staff and the fans, and it gives them a taste of a different type of pressure, which they have to learn.
“The FA Youth Cup brings that, and I think that’s a good thing for them in their learning. Roots Hall is where they want to play when they’re older, and this will give them a taste of that.”
Southend United face Leverstock Green in the First Round of The FA Youth Cup at Roots Hall on Monday 10th November. Kick-off is at 7:30pm and admission is £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.