Andrew Crofts is hoping his under-21s side can finish a “proud” week for the academy with victory against Arsenal in Premier League 2 tonight, kick off 7pm.
Crofts watched three of his players make their first-team debuts and a total of eight academy graduates finish Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Forest Green Rovers in the Carabao Cup.
Jack Hinchy, James Furlong and Cameron Peupion made their senior debuts as substitutes, while Evan Ferguson, Ed Turns and Jack Spong started and Andrew Moran and Odel Offiah got more minutes off the bench.
Crofts said, “Lots of people have worked so hard for nights like Wednesday. There are too many people to mention but they know who they are and everyone who has played their part should be incredibly proud. To see the lads grab their opportunity and perform how they did was special.”
Ferguson netted his first senior goal, following good play on the left between fellow academy graduates Peupion and Moran. It was a goal made in the under-21s and the head coach couldn’t hide his excitement.
“We celebrated Evan’s goal like we’d won the Premier League with so many of our boys involved in the move,” said Crofts. “The Forest Green fans around us weren't very happy but we couldn’t hold it in. We were so happy to see that goal – moments like that are why you do this job.
“We’ve helped these lads through some tough times and they’ve worked so hard to be at this point, so to see them playing first-team football for a Premier League club is an incredible feeling. It makes you want to keep going, pushing standards and helping young players get closer to what they want to do with their careers.”
Crofts sees Friday’s match as another chance to progress his squad. “Wednesday has to act as a springboard now for more opportunities going forward,” he added. “We’re back in league action and need to work even harder and want it even more.
“We always have tough games against Arsenal but it’s one we can’t wait for, there’s a real buzz around the place. A good performance and positive result would be the icing on the cake at the end of a great week.”
Our MU21 Premier League International Cup home game against PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday August 31 has been postponed at the Premier League's request. A new date will be confirmed as soon as possible.