COUNTY Tyrone Juniors will play host to English Academy outfit, Ipswich Town this weekend at Mountjoy United FC in their opening NI Milk Cup fixture.
The squad includes three local Cookstown Youth players and they are led by Institute Head of Development Paul Kee and local coach Conor Marlin.
In an interview with the Mid-Ulster Mail, Marlin stated that the attitude in training has been superb and admitted that the squad cannot wait to get started.
“We selected the squad in May and myself and Paul have seen real progression within the players. We have improved our fitness, our technical and tactical side of the game. The boys just can’t wait to get started.”
Kee and Marlin had the daunting task of picking 18 players from the 90 players who turned up for trials throughout April.
“It is a wonderful experience for the eighteen players. We want to make the entire week as fun as possible. We want to play good attractive passing football and give the lads a chance to show case their talents.”
“We don’t believe in simply hoofing the ball up the pitch and trying to nick a goal. We want to control the game and enjoy passing the ball around. As coaches we want to see an attractive brand of football from the boys.”
Marlin admits that Tyrone face three completely different challenges in their group games, starting with a tough test against English giants Ipswich.
“The Ipswich game is obviously the highlight of the opening games. They will be your typical Academy outfit. They will be fit, strong and like ourselves will pass the ball about. We will hopefully have a big crowd behind us and hopefully spurring us onto victory.”
“On Monday we face the Israeli outfit Haifa. We know they will be technically very good, very nippy and quick. In our final group match we face a massive challenge when we face neighbours Armagh. It will be your typical County fixture. It will be real physical battle but we will encourage the boys to play football throughout.”
The Milk Cup provide players from throughout the world the chance to show case their talents and Marlin stated that this Tyrone side are determined to make an impact in the tournament.
“It is a wonderful experience for the boys and it can be a stepping stone to greater things. Last year our captain Liam Donnelly was spotted there and he is now with Fulham. I am optimistic that there are a few in this squad that could repeat what Liam has done and hopefully get themselves a professional deal.”
The Tyrone Juniors kick off their tournament at Lisnagirr Road on Saturday against Ipswich Town. Kick off is 2.30pm.