Colchester eager for Villa challenge

COLCHESTER United Youths have a rich tradition of facing top opposition in the FA Youth Cup, and tonight it's the turn of Aston Villa to visit Layer Road.

Carl Marston

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United Youths have a rich tradition of facing top opposition in the FA Youth Cup, and tonight it's the turn of Aston Villa to visit Layer Road.

The U's have enjoyed some memorable nights in this competition over the years, including once-in-a-lifetime trips to Arsenal (at Highbury), Leeds United and Villa Park.

Tonight, the class of 2007-08 take on Premier League Academy outfit Villa in a fourth round tie. Kick-off is at 7pm, with admission at £5 for adults and just £1 for under-16s.

Youth team coach, Mel Jeffries, believes that his side have a decent chance of causing an upset.

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“It promises to be the biggest game of many of these lads' lives. We have nothing to lose,” said Jeffries.

“Even though we are at home, we are still the underdogs. However, the mood about the camp is one of quiet enthusiasm.

“We are not used to playing a big club like Aston Villa on a week-to-week basis. It's a big opportunity for the lads.”

The U's Head of Youth Development, Steve Downey, is also looking forward to the challenge.

He said: “It's a good chance for the players to come up against a Premier League Academy, and also for our management team to see the youngsters in a really competitive game,” said Downey.

“Hopefully, there'll be a good crowd who can not only see some of our players for the future, but on the Villa side they might be watching potential Premier League stars.”

Jeffries rested several of his regulars as the under-18s lost 2-1 to Leyton Orient in a Puma Youth Alliance match on Saturday, when substitute Josh Oakley bagged his 10th goal of the season.

All eyes will be on flying winger Medy Elito tonight. The 17-year-old has already travelled with the first-team squad this season, and has also played for England Under-17s in a round-robin tournament in Portugal.

Elito signed a professional contract just a few days after his 17th birthday, and has been a familiar face in the reserves this term.

U's youth team squad: Jack Smelt, Nathan Speed, Adam Bailey-Dennis, Ryan Amass, James Hammond, Ben Griffiths, Medy Elito, Sam Corcoran, Josh Oakley, Jeremiah Olusanya, Fabian Quintyn, Russell Malton, Jimmy Pirie, Perry Sansford, Jamie Wright, Decklun Barker, Kyelan Marvell.

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