Ruth: Academy football stereotype has helped us

Wycombe host our under-21s in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy on Wednesday evening.

By Charlie Hanson • 31 January 2024

By Paul Hazlewood
Ben Jackson celebrates Albion reaching the quarter-finals after defeating Reading.

Shannon Ruth has said it’s not a tough job motivating his team for the EFL Trophy.

The under-21s take on Wycombe in the quarter-finals of the competition on Wednesday night – the furthest stage our academy team has ever reached.

Head coach Ruth believes that opposition team’s perception of academy teams has played into his side’s hands so far this campaign.

By Paul Hazlewood
Shannon Ruth's team are enjoying an impressive campaign so far.

“There is definitely a stereotype or generalisation that academy football is not as physical and it is not as near to the real game. That’s a lot what I hear. It enables us to really drive that side of the game when we play the match," he said.

“To keep four clean sheets (in the Trophy so far) is something we are very proud of because it’s not easy.

“It is certainly a motivation that an opposition manager would give their players - that we are young players who won't be up for the fight.


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EFL Trophy Highlights: Brighton 0 Reading 0 (3-2 on pens)

“But they are hungry to fight. It is something you hear from Roberto [De Zerbi] a lot - about appetite and wanting to be the very best you can be. Because the way we play is very possession-based, we have to really push and work hard on how we are off the ball.”

Wycombe have already beaten three under-21 teams in this season’s competition, including both Fulham and West Ham in their last two outings.

“I thought Reading were going to cause us a few problems in the last round with the ball and how they played and some of the individuals, whereas Wycombe are quite experienced," Ruth added.

By Paul Hazlewood
Albion defeated Reading on penalties to reach this stage.

“They have got quite a few players over the age of 30 so the challenge is slightly different and obviously the occasion and being at Adams Park will be a different challenge.

“With it being a quarter-final, not a lot of those players would have played in a latter stage of this tournament. That adds to it being a more difficult challenge.”