Town youths face tough task tonight

HOLDERS Ipswich Town are being given a tough time in trying to retain the FA Youth Cup.

HOLDERS Ipswich Town are being given a tough time in trying to retain the FA Youth Cup, writes Derek Davis.

Bryan Klug's side go to Liverpool tonight shorn of three of their best players and know that even if they reach the last 16 they face another massive trip to the north-west with Burnley waiting to take on the winners.

Owen Garvan, Danny Haynes and Billy Clarke, who all played a part in the win over Leeds United at Elland Road in the third round, are not available for tonight's 7pm kick-off at Anfield.

Garvan and Haynes are now first-team regulars and will be in the squad travelling to Southampton tomorrow for the Championship clash with Southampton on Saturday, while Billy Clarke is getting over an elbow injury.

Academy director Klug last night said: “We will just get on with it the best we can and it gives opportunities for other young lads to come through.

“I was not expecting to have either Danny, Billy or Owen for the Liverpool game as they have challenges elsewhere to meet.”

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Liverpool, who beat Cardiff City to progress, have no such selection problems.

None of their squad are in the first team, although six are regulars in the reserves side and all will be available for Steve Heighway's side tonight.

Jack Hobbs, a Portsmouth-born centre-half bought from Lincoln City, will line up alongside 17-year-old Ghanaian international Godwin Antwi, who signed from Real Zaragoza, while Spanish midfielder Miki Roque and winger Besion Idrizag, will provide top-class opposition.

Second year Academy lads Conal Platt, a Republic of Ireland striker, and full-back Calum Woods are also regular reserve team players and will be involved, while the rest of the Under-18s did not have an Academy game at the weekend as their match against Bolton was called off - allowing the Reds to be well rested.

Tonight's clash will feature two previous winners, with Liverpool last winning the competition 10 years ago when Michael Owen and Jamie Carragher were in their side, while the Blues will be looking towards some of last year's triumphant stars to help them reach the last 16.

Ed Upson, the match-winning goal hero from last season, is one of two schoolboys in the side, along with fellow young England international Kurt Robinson.Northern Ireland captain Chris Casement will skipper the side while defender Sammy Moore will provide even more bite at the back, and Liam Trotter will be looking to supply the attacking impetus from midfield and a repeat of his display at Leeds would be welcomed.

Daryl Knights, who has made one first-team appearance, is fit after injury and looking to get on the end of some Stuart Ainsley's passes.

The Blues players watched a video of that outstanding victory over Southampton on the way up to Liverpool to draw inspiration. Klug said: “No one is making this easy for us but we will just get on with it. I watched Liverpool against Cardiff and they are a very good side.

“We beat them in a league game earlier in the season but they will only have one or two of the same players from that team. They have a lot of reserve-team players involved and will be a very strong team.

“But even without players we will be giving it a go. The lads have seen what they can do and can enjoy the experience of playing at Anfield and learn a great deal. That is what these cup games are about, expanding the education and we can learn a great deal about players in these situations.”

Whoever wins through will face Burnley at Turf Moor on a date before February 4. The Clarets beat Fulham 2-1 to reach the sixth round.

Ipswich Town squad: Peturrson, Casement, Trotter, Ainsley, Moore, Sheringham, Short, Boto, Fenn, Leabon, Nimmo, Hermannsson, Upson, Robinson, Plummer, Webster and Knights.

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