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Crook's challenge for City's youngsters

PUBLISHED: 07:30 22 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:59 06 July 2010

Norwich first team coach Ian Crook is challenging City's youngsters to impress at Dereham tonight to stake a claim for a place against Premiership champions Man United at Carrow Road this weekend.

Norwich first team coach Ian Crook is challenging City's youngsters to impress at Dereham tonight to stake a claim for a place against Premiership champions Man United at Carrow Road this weekend.

City will field a shadow squad at Aldiss Park against the Ridgeons League side prior to launching their home pre-season campaign with the Red Devils' high profile visit on Saturday.

“I've got the boys at Dereham and I'm looking forward to that,” said Crook. “It's another game for us to get some fitness into the legs and get some of the younger lads up against men.

"We've got a game Wednesday and a game Saturday, and we need to make sure particularly at this time of the season that we're not flogging a dead horse come the weekend.

“The Manchester United game has the higher profile, and although we don't know the make-up of the side yet, it will predominantly include first year scholars and young professionals. It's a good chance to get as many 90 minutes into the boys as we possibly can. At the end of the day I want to be able to go to the gaffer and say, if any of this group is required for the first team, they are physically ready.”

Crook is hoping it will be a night for City's bright young things to shine - and maybe prove they will be up for a bigger role in the Canaries' League One campaign allied to returning to the 18-fixture Football Combination this season.

“Definitely; probably it's been accentuated by getting relegated and obviously we're not able to be as active in the transfer market as we probably could have been if we'd been in the league above,” admitted Crook. “So we've had to have a little look to bring on some of those young players and the best way to do that is through a regular reserve campaign.

“Youth football to first team football is such a big gap, if we can help bridge that it has got to be a good thing.”

The days of a first, reserve and youth team group working separately at training are long gone, with all City's professionals working together.

“The groups will work closely together and, also, training with the first team squad is of huge benefit to some of those boys,” said Crook. “Rather than them just getting game time against the senior professionals, they will be working with and against older opposition in training as well. Obviously the day before a game we will work with the players set to be involved individually, but certainly the rest of the time all of the professionals will be training together.”

The Canaries' new professionals, such as Dario Dumic, David Stephens and Tom Adeyemi, have all had a slice of the first team pie so far in pre-season, carrying on from their impressive FA Premier Academy League and Youth Cup performances.

“They had a good year last year, of that there's no doubt,” said Crook. “They've come in, been involved in the three games up in Scotland and they've fitted in well and certainly not looked out of place. With young boys you will get peaks and troughs, you've got to expect that, but they've been excellent and done well.”

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