Ipswich young guns please boss Atay, as boss Cook offers his support
- Credit: Archant
Adem Atay says there is 'a sense of optimism and positivity' in his young Ipswich U18 team, as they continue their FA Youth Cup journey.
The Blues came from a goal behind to beat Swindon 3-1 on Saturday, and secure a place in the last 16 of a competition Town have a proud tradition in, having won it three times (1973, 1975 and 2005).
And while coach Atay knows an away trip to either Swansea or Middlesbrough in the next round offers another tough test, he's been pleased with the way his team have gone about things this season.
"There is a sense of optimism and positivity within the group and they are not afraid of any opposition," Atay said.
"If we had Chelsea or Manchester City in the next round, the conversation might be a bit different. But we haven't, and the boys will be looking at whoever our next opponents are, and sensing if we can reproduce our best then actually it's the opposition who should be fearing us."
Atay, who has been at the club as a coach for 11 years, has guided Town's U18s to the top of their Professional Development league. He knows that, while results are not all at U18 football, they are still important.
"Winning games creates a good mentality," he said.
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"This team has gone from October to last weekend as a group and not lost for 12 games. That's a great feeling. It creates a mindset that you are never beaten. On many occasions we have come from behind or grabbed last-minute winners. It's a strong mentality to have."
Atay was coaching Ipswich's U18s alongside Kieron Dyer a few seasons back. Dyer is now U23s boss, the former England man was also with the first-team squad at Wigan on Saturday. Something Atay was pleased to see.
"It's great to see Kieron with the first team," he said.
"Kieron loves the football club and only wants it to do well. He believes he can contribute to any group he is working with, the U18s, 23s, or the gaffer and his staff.
"He and Paul Cook gave me a call on Saturday morning and said go out and enjoy it, these are great occasions, remember them. That was really nice.
"Most of our boys have been in and around the gaffer last week in training as well. It's been a very positive experience for all of us."
It may have been 16 years since Town last won the FA Youth Cup, but there are plenty of young players in the current Town squad who have played in the competition for the club over the years - most recently Armando Dobra, Jack Lankester and Brett McGavin.
"Yes, there are lots of players in the first-team squad now who have played in the Youth Cup for us over time," Atay said. "The club's got a history in the competition but it's a very tough one to win these days. I don't mind who we play in the next round, Swansea or Middlesbrough, although maybe it would be nice to play Boro as we don't play them in our league."
Atay, rightly, has confidence in his young players.
"Our boys have shown they can deal with adversity," he said. "They were a goal down on Saturday and two down against Fulham in the last round before winning.
"They have handled the pressure well and especially as now we come into the competition in round one, not round three as we used to when we were a Championship club. That in itself adds a bit of pressure because no-one wants to go out in round one.
"Last year we made it through to round three, and now we have got to round five."
Swansea and Middlesbrough meet on Friday. Whoever progresses from the match with Ipswich will take on either Peterborough, Sheffield United or Bristol City in the last eight - the draw having already been made.