Young Whites in Spurs Youth Cup showdown

First published in Sport The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , sports writer

WANDERERS Under-18s boss David Lee heads to the only ground he never graced as a player tonight hoping his young charges can progress to the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals.

The Whites take on Tottenham’s youngsters at White Hart Lane – the only stadium missing from Lee’s CV in a 15-year playing career that saw him make more than 500 league appearances.

But while he completes a “92-club” of sorts in the dugout, it is all about his teenage players as they look to become only the third Wanderers team to reach the last eight of the FA Cup’s younger sibling tournament.

The Whites lost a third successive Elite Premier League Group game at Southampton last weekend but have already beaten Portsmouth and Reading in the cup, the latter of those on away turf.

And Lee is confident his and Tony Kelly’s side can shock Spurs on the night.

Lee said: “It was disappointing to lose last weekend at Southampton but good to get it out of the way and focus on this game.

“It is a big one to play at White Hart Lane – I never got the chance and it was the only one out of the 92 clubs I didn’t play at.

“The lads are all looking forward to it and it’s about keeping a lid on the excitement.

“Everyone wants to play in the FA Youth Cup; I was the same as a youngster.

“And to go to White Hart Lane is fantastic for the lads with the history of that club and the players they watch each week.

“But we have already played at the Reebok and Reading so it won’t faze them, hopefully.

“We will get them out early to absorb the empty stadium and take it in and then it’s down to business.”

After just one league defeat, to Reading, before the Christmas break, Wanderers U18s have found the step up to elite level tough, particularly with several members graduating to the Under-21 development side.

But Lee knows there is the talent in the team to provide a stern test for Tottenham in the capital.

He added: “One or two didn’t do themselves justice at Southampton but I’ve seen a good response in training this week.

“It will be tough against a good Spurs side – I have watched their win at West Ham in the last round and it was impressive.

“But I don’t think our lads will fear anything because they know they have a chance if they do themselves justice.

“We have a few knocks and niggles and may have some square pegs in round holes but it’s a good group we have.

“We naturally go there as underdogs but they will respect us and if our lads have the right attiude, there is no reason why we can’t get through.

“I hope we do for the lads’ sake because they have put in so much effort this season and played so well in the first half that a cup run would give everyone a boost.”

Tonight’s cup tie kicks off at 7pm and The Bolton News will be there to keep fans up to date with all the action.

Log on to www.theboltonnew s.co.uk from just before 7pm for regular match updates.

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