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Interviews

Academy manager Tony Daws previews Manchester United FA Youth Cup third round tie

12 December 2021

Academy manager Tony Daws has spoken to Scunthorpe-United.co.uk to preview the Under-18s away FA Youth Cup third round game against Manchester United on Monday night (7pm kick-off).

After seeing off the threats of Shrewsbury Town and Guiseley both 1-0 in the first and second rounds of the competition, the reward for the Iron's academy is a trip to face the Red Devils at Old Trafford.

Daws said: "The Under-18s is the tip of the academy iceberg and we have teams all the way down to Under-9s. For some of the boys it's the culmination of a number of years' effort to get to this stage and represent Scunthorpe United in such a prestigious game."

United will go into the match having played just once in the four weeks since the second round success over Guiseley, and Daws said it's been a case of trying to keep training and the day-to-day routine as normal as possible for the Under-18s squad, who are naturally excited about pitting their wits against some of the world's elite in their category.

"We've just been trying to keep things as normal as possible in terms of training. The lads have been going to college as normal as well and it's just been a normal period leading up to the game really. They obviously are very excited though," Daws added.

"I was disappointed that the Bradford game (in the Youth Alliance League) was called off because of the storm that we had a fortnight ago, so we've only played one game since the Guiseley match. I thought we were a little bit rusty in our last league game against Mansfield last weekend, so we could have probably done with that additional Bradford game.

"However, the good thing with not playing is we haven't picked up any injuries so we've got a full squad available for selection, which is great. So it's worked well in terms of no injuries, but we'd have liked a little bit more match practice before the FA Cup tie.

"With everyone available though, it's a tough choice now in terms of selection as you can only put 11 starters out on the pitch, and use three subs from seven on the bench. On a normal Saturday we have five subs so it's good that we can put an extra two players on the bench."

A couple of the players are Manchester United fans themselves, and it's the second time Daws has been involved in such a tie against the Red Devils, with the last one being in 2006. It was eventually played at Hyde United.

Daws continued: "The game was supposed to be at Old Trafford but it got switched because of the heavy rain we had leading up to the game. I got the teamsheet out the other day and showed the staff and it was eye-watering recently to see the players we face - such as Craig Cathcart, Danny Drinkwater, Danny Welbeck, Craig Fagan, Ben Amos and Tom Cleverley. You look back and at the time they'd not made their breakthrough to the first team but these are all players who went on to have strong careers.

"I guess it will be similar this time. They're a multi-national team with players from various countries, so in years to come a number of these lads will go on to play for their country. They had a number of young players on the bench in the Champions League against Young Boys last week too, and some of those may be eligible to face us on Monday night. They have a large squad to select from though."

In recent weeks, some of the Iron's Under-18 players (Harry Lewis, Harrison Poulter and Oliver Lobley) have been on the bench for the first team too, and Daws commented: "Keith Hill has come into the club and has been fantastic in terms of promoting youth team players. Every day there are three or four of the boys training with the first team. It's really good for the academy and we're in a position where it gives the players belief. He has a proven record in giving youth a chance, so it's genuinely really exciting for us."

The Iron will take four coaches of supporters to Old Trafford, with three of those kindly provided for free by Marshall Motor Group. Match tickets can be purchased for FREE by clicking here, and Daws is thankful for the support at the Theatre of Dreams.

He said: "I hope they enjoy their night and I think it's fantastic that they will be coming along to cheer on the lads. It was a great gesture by (Iron Non-Executive Director) Simon Elliott and Marshall Motor Group to put on the three free coaches and support us with that. I just hope we can go there, give a good account of ourselves and make the fans proud."


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