MANAGER Dave Cannon said his AFC Sudbury Reserves side will play with ‘no fear’ in the CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Final.
The Academy side face fellow Thurlow Nunn League Division One North side Framlingham Town in Friday’s final at the JobServe Community Stadium, home of Colchester United FC, kick-off 7.30pm.
The entire AFC Sudbury Reserves’ squad will be made up of boys from the club’s Academy and will all be aged between 16 and 19.
Should they win Friday’s final, the squad will rival Framlingham College (1890-91 & 1893-94) and Team Bury (2009-10) for the accolade of being the youngest to lift the famous trophy.
Cannon said: “They will have no fear about playing in that environment – they are too young to understand the history of the competition and what it means to win it at the moment.
“Since we started the Academy, playing in this competition has been a part of the boys’ development, but this is the first time we have been able to put out such a strong squad in the latter stages.
“Apart from (first-team regular) Josh Stokes we have everyone available to pick from.”
Cannon said the final afforded his players an opportunity to showcase their skills on a big stage.
He recalled: “I remember Tyler French, who has just got promoted with Dundee and will be playing against Celtic and Rangers next season, playing for us in the first round (in the 2015-16 season) at Capel Plough.
“Those boys whose names are on the teamsheet on Friday will play at a high level in the future, but this is an opportunity for them to put down a lasting mark in this competition by actually winning it!
“Nick Pope (Newcastle United & England goalkeeper) played in goal for Team Bury when they won this cup, and we are now doing what West Suffolk College were doing when Danny Laws was there and for a couple of years after, in that there is an opportunity for these boys to have a similar profile.”
Cannon is expecting an open game and there to be goals – the two league games between the two teams producing a total of eight goals.
He said: “Framlingham are a side who want to play football with a similar philosophy to us – they want to be on the front foot, play attractive football and win games.”
Cannon admitted he faces disappointing boys who will not make the final squad.
“Apart from the first-year boys who played in this competition for Sudbury Sports, I have 26 boys to choose a 16-man squad from.
“Injuries can sometimes help who gets selected, but naturally everyone wants to play as it is a cup final at Colchester United.
“The depth and quality of the squad means there are boys who won’t make the final 16 who would have played in the final had we got there in previous years,” added Cannon.