Suffolk will start as underdogs in final
SUFFOLK Schools’ Under-16s will start as underdogs against Greater Manchester in tomorrow’s ESFA final at Hillsborough.
It is the first time that Suffolk have reached the final of this national competition at under-16 level, although they have twice previously been crowned champions at under-18 level.
Suffolk are hoping that central midfielder Callum Bennett, who is with Ipswich Town’s Academy, will be available for the final, although he has not appeared in any of the previous rounds.
Bennett, who Ipswich have verbally agreed to release for the match, has been included in a 17-strong squad that travels north tonight, but Stowupland High School midfielder Ryan Titlow misses out as the final, kick-off 1pm, clashes with one of his GCSE exams.
Included in the Suffolk squad will be Kalum Winters, who suffered from a bout of appendicitis several weeks ago, and will be named among the substitutes, even though he is not fully fit. He is the son of former Ipswich Town reserve team goalkeeper Jason Winters, who is Suffolk’s assistant manager.
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Chris King, the Suffolk manager, is not fazed by facing the defending champions at the home of Sheffield Wednesday.
He said: “We will start as underdogs, but I don’t see that as a problem – we have been underdogs in some of the previous rounds this season.
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“On our day if we play to our potential we can beat anyone. We know they have got a few players who are attached to Academies, while Callum Bennett is our only player currently at an Academy, although Eddie Wilding has signed a two-year scholarship with Doncaster Rovers for next season.
“But they have had tight games to reach the final like we have – it is not as if they have beaten anyone by five or six goals.
“They are all going to be nervous, but we will tell the boys to get a couple of good early touches and to enjoy themselves and play like they know they can.”
Suffolk County FA, who have already contributed a grant of more than �2,000 towards schools’ football this season, have donated �500 towards the team’s expenses in recognition of reaching the final.
King added: “We are very appreciative of their support – without it I don’t know that we would have been able to stay overnight.
“We also appreciate the support we have had from the boys’ parents over the last three seasons, and we hope as many of them as possible will be there to cheer us on.”
Suffolk squad: Miles Cartey (Holywells), Ryan Crisp (Sir John Leman, Beccles), Sam Cullivan (Great Cornard), Charlie Delarabell (Hadleigh), Seth Duzgan (Copleston), Jack Edwards (Thurston), Jordan Egerton (Deben), Alex Greggor (Farlingaye), Will Hitter (Stowupland), Adam Horn (Westbourne), Charlie King (Northgate), Ben Lancaster, Elliott McCall (both Stowmarket), Jack Pugh (Holbrook), Eddie Wilding (Deben), Kalum Winters, Callum Bennett (both Kesgrave).