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'Clash of the Academy titans' - Rioch

11 November 2013

Academy Manager Gregor Rioch believes his FA Youth Cup game against Crewe Alexandra will be an exciting contest...

Coventry City Academy Manager Gregor Rioch believes the FA Youth Cup game against Crewe Alexandra tonight will be the 'clash of the Academy titans.'

The Sky Blues have a proud history of promoting scholars from the Academy into the first team, with 11 out of 18 players in the squad for the FA Cup first round win over AFC Wimbledon from the Academy.

The Alex also have a proud history in promoting their youth players as they played an entire first team made up of home-grown players in the final League One game last season against Walsall.

The Sky Blues go into the Youth Cup knowing a second round tie away at Rochdale awaits if they progress, and Rioch is hoping to see a positive performance.

The Academy Manager said: "It is the time of year your whole team looks forward to. It is the opportunity to play your youth games on a big stage. 

"The team has played really well so far this season. We have had a mixed side of apprentices and school-boys playing in our Under-18s this year which means we are quite young.

"There isn't too many stadium experiences in youth football these days which means it is a competition we would like to progress in. They will get that match-day experience which is something you can't really replicate, but it is extremely important.

"I am sure our lads will have some nerves heading into the game but I'm sure once they get on the ball and start playing our game, it will be a great experience for them."

The Under-18s side have enjoyed a good season so far, enjoying wins over Sheffield United, Brentford and Cardiff City. 

The game kick-offs at 7pm at Gresty Road and Rioch believes it will be 'great football game' between 'two well-established Academies'.

He added: "Crewe have got a great reputation in bringing through players. What have got tonight is two well-established Academies going up against each other so it will be an interesting one.

"Of course, we have produced a lot of players for the first team over the years. To see 11 of the match-day squad from the Academy against AFC Wimbledon on Friday was a very proud moment.

"Crewe played an Academy XI in their first team last season so really, it is the battle of the Academy titans. There will be plenty of battles around the pitch but it will be two sides trying to play football so it should be a great occasion.

"It is a cup game so there is a different mentality going into the game. The only thing you can take a positive from tonight is winning. This is another part of their development so a win tonight would be a major boost."

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