Lee takes positives from FA Youth Cup run
WHITES Under-18s coach David Lee believes his team’s run to the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals can inspire the likes of teenagers Chris Lester, Tom Youngs and Zach Clough to step up to the next level.
All three have shone alongside their young team-mates in a run that saw them beat Portsmouth along with Premier League academy sides Reading and Tottenham before Wednesday’s extra-time defeat at Nottingham Forest.
And while disappointed to exit at the last-eight stage, Lee, believes it is a fantastic learning curve for players like Lester who have already tasted life on the first-team bench this campaign in the FA Cup tie against Sunderland.
Lee said: “Overall, it is a learning experience for every player.
“If you want to play at Championship level or even higher, you will encounter situations like Tuesday night week in, week out.
“They are hurting and are disappointed as we all are but it’s character building.
“Hopefully, they will learn from it and be all the better for it in the future.
“The players have responded to the attraction focused on them in this run.
“That has brought a bit of pressure, not from us as coaches, but from outside.
“The accolades have been there in previous rounds and the lads have done fantastic against Portsmouth, Reading and at Spurs – let’s not forget, to score eight goals at Tottenham is something very special.
“It has put the academy on the map a little bit.
“We have had a bit of publicity for it and hopefully it will stand the players in good stead.”
Lee and joint coach Tony Kelly may feel Wednesday’s unusually below-par display was possibly one match too far for a group who face another tough test back in the Elite Phase league at Manchester United tomorrow.
And, while they will be proud of the achievements this cup campaign, it will not hide the disappointment they could have gone even further.
Lee added: “We got a great start with the goal from Zach Clough and then needed to retain possession a little bit.
“I thought, throughout the 90 minutes, we didn’t do that – and especially into extra-time.
“We always looked like we were going to score goals but, on the other side, we were succeptible to the counter attack and looked like we would concede.
“That’s not a criticism of individuals but more as a team. I always come out with positives and the players who did not do as well on the night know they haven’t performed, I don’t need to tell them that.
“Now we will see how they respond.”