RAMELTON native Kyle Callan-McFadden and his Norwich City teammates are only 90 minutes away from a place in the FA Youth Cup final against either Liverpool or Chelsea.
The 17-year-old played centre-half for the Canaries as Norwich recorded a crucial 1-0 away win at Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Thursday night and will be hoping to complete the job tonight back at Carrow Road.
Liverpool went down 2-0 at home to Chelsea in their first leg.
A final place will be Norwich’s first in the competition since 1983 when they defeated Everton 6-5 on aggregate with a team that included former club favourite Jeremy Goss.
“It was a scrappy enough first half and Forest had us under pressure to begin with,” Callan-McFadden said. “Defensively though, we managed to deal with everything they threw at us and we came out of the traps, pressed more and managed to get our goal through Reece Hall-Johnson.
“It was a great win but seeing as it’s two legs we know it’s only half-time. Now it’s a matter of just keeping our heads and hopefully we can go on and make the final.”
While the ITV4 cameras were in Nottingham last week, only 277 hardy souls attended Norwich’s first match in the competition, the fourth round proper, a 2-1 win against Millwall on cold night in January when Harry Toffolo scored twice.
Norwich followed that up with a 2-1 extra-time victory over Birmingham City, with Joshua Murphy and Cameron McGeehan were on target.
But it was only when Norwich ousted Everton in the quarter-finals that people really began to sit up and take notice. Joshua Murphy scored again and a hat-trick from Carlton Morris took the side managed by Neil Adams through to the last four.
“That was a really good footballing game,” Callan-McFadden said of the win at Goodison. “We were 2-0 up but Everton managed to pull a goal back right before half-time. We were a little annoyed going in at the break but the manager told us to keep playing as we were, as we were the better team, and we managed to win 4-2.
“Going into the competition we wouldn’t really have been considered one of the favourites to win it. People might’ve expected us to get to the fourth round maybe but we’ve a decent team with six internationals.
“I played for Ireland from U-15 to U-19, Harry Toffolo and the Murphys, Josh and Jake, are with England, Cameron McGeehan is Northern Irish and then Cameron King represents Scotland.”
It’s a big week for Callan-McFadden in more ways than one. Having been at Norwich for two years now, club officials will decide this week which academy players will be offered a professional contract.
With reserve football having been dissolved he plays more often now for the Norwich U-21’s and has lined up alongside first-teamers like goalkeeper John Ruddy, David Fox and Stephen Whittaker in recent weeks.
“All the academy players were supposed to hear last week but with the team going so well in the FA Youth Cup it’ll be Thursday now,” Callan-McFadden said.
“I was nervous but was talking to some of the first-team staff recently and some of the feedback means I’m confident enough. I suppose I’m committed, work hard and always try to give 100 per cent. That’s what they’re after so fingers crossed. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.”
Callan-McFadden, a natural leader, has captained Ireland from U-16 to U-18 and is part of the U-19 squad that take part in the Uefa U-19 European Championship Elite Qualifying Round.
Paul Doolin’s side will take on hosts Serbia, Slovakia and Switzerland in June for a place in the finals in Lithuania a month later.
Norwich City’s FA Trophy semi-final second leg against Nottingham Forest is live on ITV4 tonight, kicking-off at 7.45pm. The second leg of the last four between Chelsea and Liverpool will take place on Friday.