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Bantams wheel out their young guns for big FA Youth Cup tie
City’s all-conquering youngsters step out for their Valley Parade debut in the FA Youth Cup tonight with the battle cry: Do us proud.
The Bantams academy put their season-long 16-match unbeaten run on the line against Millwall in the third-round encounter (7pm).
The Lions may start favourites because of their higher status but City youth coach Steve Thornber believes his side, who have won at Scunthorpe and Morecambe so far, are well capable of springing an upset.
A good crowd is expected to watch the likes of hot-shot striker Oliver McBurnie and Jack Stockdill and Thornber is convinced City’s youngsters can rise to the occasion.
He said: “You’d think with the funding Millwall have got, they should be a little too strong for us. But we’re going really well this year and confidence is sky high.
“We’ve got a strong crop of lads and it’s the same with the under-16s coming through. It’s looking good for the next few years if we can keep hold of them.
“We set targets from the start of the season and they’ve hit every one so far. They push each other on and it’s a pleasure to work with them.
“Their attitude has been different class. We’ve not had a group like this for a long while.”
City are nine points clear at the top of the Football League Youth Alliance North-East Conference and are also still going strong in the League Cup.
McBurnie has smashed 21 goals, including four hat-tricks, and recently made his first-team debut at Rotherham. He has also trained with the Scotland age-group set-up.
Millwall are expected to present a very physical test but City will be prepared, having watched them three times.
Thornber said: “It’s been a very good start to get to the turn of the year unbeaten in the league. That’s playing against teams from our standard, category three, and Millwall are the next level up.
“We’ve done our homework and know their strengths – and where we can perhaps hurt them. Hopefully we’ll get a few fans down and the lads will do us proud.”
There is the added incentive for the winners of another home tie in the last 32 against Sheffield United and Thornber believes City are capable of progressing even further.
He said: “I’ve set them a target of getting to the fifth round. It might be a bit ambitious but you can soon go on a good run.
“You only have to look at the results in this competition already, like Accrington beating West Ham last week.
“This game is certainly winnable if we put on a performance like we can and then we’ll see from there.”
Thornber gave the bulk of his side a rest at the weekend and fielded seven under-16s in the 2-1 win over Grimsby. But he will be missing free-kick specialist Callum Chippendale.
“Callum sprung his shoulder and has still not got the full range of movement in it,” he said.
“The lad is desperate to play but it would be foolish to risk him. It’s probably a two-week thing but if he falls over on it again, it might need an operation or pinning.
“He’s certainly a key player but he’s only a first-year, so he’s got a chance again next season as well.”
Admission is free for season-ticket and flexicard holders, otherwise it is £3 for adults and £1 over-60s and under-16s.
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