Oldham Athletic’s Head of Youth Tony Philliskirk admits Latics under-18’s face an uphill task in tonight’s FA Youth Cup first-round tie against Accrington Stanley.
Philliskirk is likely to have up to seven of his regular U18 side missing when the side line-up at Boundary Park tonight (7pm).
“I am under no illusions it will be a tough ask,” Philliskirk told the Club’s website.
“If seven players are missing, no team in the country wouldn’t be affected. It is a great opportunity for other players and we will give it our best shot.”
“It is a big night for the lads to play under the lights at Boundary Park, use the first team changing room and prepare for a game as the senior side does. It is a part of their education.”
Latics have been boosted by the return of Joe Cooper, back after a lengthy injury lay-off, but it will be his first game in almost two months should he start.
Luke Simpson and Michael Brewster are both out injured, Tomos Clarke is on international duty with Wales U17’s, while Chris Sutherland on first-team duty and Tomos Jones one day too old will also be missing from Philliskirk’s team.
Indeed Oldham are so depleted they will only be able to name four of five permitted substitutes, one of whom will be striker Haydn Foulds who only resumed training this week after a long term injury.
Two schoolboys – Ryan Ellison and Danny Byrnes – are named in the 15-strong squad but there will be no replacement keeper as Simpson and under-16’s player Luke Brabin are both injured so striker Luke Wandless would take over in goal in the event of anything happening to Joel Coleman.
Despite the obvious issues he has been faced with, Philliskirk added that the Latics’ goal for the FA Youth Cup is similar to the first-team’s objectives in the FA Cup.
“We want to make it to the third round and then draw a big club as we did last year when we were paired with Norwich City.”
If Latics beat Accrington Stanley, they have home advantage again in the second round against Coventry City.