The club's Professional Development Academy Manager looks ahead to Friday's FA Youth Cup tie
.FA Youth Cup fourth-round tieGillingham’s Professional Development Academy Manager Mark Patterson says the club’s under-18s are relishing the opportunity of taking on Sheffield Wednesday in Friday night’s
The Gills last progressed to this stage of the competition in the 2003/04 season, and take on a team ranked one category above them in English football’s academy pyramid at Hillsborough in a 7pm kick-off.
“When the draw was made, one of the players asked: ‘Isn’t that where they played the FA Cup semi-finals?’, so they’re fully aware of what it’s about,” said Patterson. “It’s a fantastic venue, a real traditional English ground.
“Wednesday are a good team, they’ve got really good players, and we’ll have to be at our best and hope they have an off night to progress. But we’re ready to give it a go, and I know the players will give it everything. If we didn’t think we could win the game, we’d be doing ourselves a disservice.”
The Gills have beaten the likes of Kent side Corinthian and Oxford City at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium to progress to this stage of the competition; Friday’s game is arguably the first time in the four rounds to date they go into as underdogs.
Patterson said: “In the two home ties, we were the favourites against two non-league sides, and we saw what a battle they were. I think against Sheffield Wednesday, we’re clearly the underdogs. The expectation’s off us.
“I’ll be telling the players to not get carried away, and to realise what’s at stake, but also to enjoy it. To go to places like Hillsborough is a great reward for what they’ve done; when we started this campaign in November, we all wanted to get to round three and test ourselves against a big team. We’ve got that draw, but it’s a round later, which shows how capable they are.”