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13 May 2022

Ahead of our U18s' Professional Development League play-off semi-final against Charlton Athletic, Tom Harban gave his thoughts to the local press.

“There’s a buzz about the place, especially this week. The lads are training with a really good intensity – they’re lively around the place – so, it’s an exciting challenge, one that we cherish and we want to go and put our stamp on it.

“They’re a very good side – a very attack-minded team. They’ve got a lot of goals in there; I think they’re the top goal scorers in both leagues, so it’ll be tough.

“We’ve played them twice and given them good games this season so far – lost one and won one – so, I’m anticipating that it’s going to be a close encounter, but one that we’re really confident of going down there and getting a result in.”

“Since I’ve been with the under 18s, we’ve had a target that we want to do better than the previous year. I think we’ve done that in terms of the points tally, as well. This year, we’ve gone one point better with less games and we’ve obviously made the play-offs.

“So, I’m really pleased in terms of how this season has panned out. We’ve had loads of ups and downs in it in terms of results and performances, but we’ve managed to get in the top two, which I think was the main objective from the group at the beginning of the season.”

“We want to give them every aspect of football in terms of their development at that age where they’re still learning the game but winning is a massive part of it.

“It breeds confidence and, when players are confident, they go out on the pitch and express themselves more and show everyone their ability and what they’re potentially able to do.”

“Since the EPPP (Premier League Elite Player Performance Plan) came in, this is the first time the under 18s have got in and around it, which is a massive achievement in itself. It’s full credit to the group the way they’ve come in from the start of the season and worked so hard every day and been open to learning.

“They’ve had to be criticised at times for performances, but in the right way, and they’ve got their just rewards at the end of it, but we’re not finished yet.”

“That’s the goal now. I said to the lads that there’s no point in getting this far and achieving what you have done; you may as well go out and complete it.

“Hopefully, they’ll come back with the trophy.”

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