Tony: Anton His Own Man

Academy director Tony Carr has urged fans to judge Anton Ferdinand on his own merits, and not expect him to be a carbon copy of older brother Rio.

Anton Ferdinand captained the Youth Cup side in the victory against Oadby recently, and Tony says:

"The only comparison with Rio is that it is the same surname and obviously they are siblings; to compare otherwise is not fair on the boy and it is almost an impossibility for a brother to be a carbon copy of a younger or older brother.

"Look at Jackie and Bobby Charlton, two ends of the spectrum - and Anton is his own man."

"Anton is a young under 18, and people tend to forget that; he has made very good progress and it is just about maintaining consistency.

"There is some growth and strength still to come out of his body and I think in the next 12 months he will steadily make progress."

Anton travelled to Middlesbrough as part of the first team squad last week, and will be hoping to do the same on Saturday for the trip to Old Trafford - if only so he can say hellot brother Rio who is likely to make his comeback in that game after an injury lay-off.

The Youth Cup side is an U18 competition but of course the regular league football for the youngsters is split either side of that age group.

Of their progress, Tony says:

"Results-wise the U19s are doing very well and are top of their group; the 17s have been a bit inconsistent with young players coming in and out of the side, players coming in from schoolboy groups to the 17s, and boys moving from the 17s to the 19s.

"Obviously there is movement between the 19s and the reserves, so there is always going to be some inconsistency with youth team results, but overall we are pleased with the progress of the squads.

"The two young centre backs, both Anton and Elliot Ward have done really well and gone into the reserve team, and held their own.

"Elliot is out with an injury which is going to keep him out for about a month with shin splints, but up to that point he had made really good progress with Anton.

"The younger boys, Tommy Laws and Darren Bluett have done very well, progressing from the 17s to the 19s, and Mitchell Cole has been in the 19s regularly, culminating in an England cap for him a couple of weeks ago."

Tommy Laws put in an impressive performance in the Youth Cup win over Oadby, and Tony says:

"Tommy has made rapid progress; sometimes the boys take a dip down before they come again, but he has gone from the 17s after just leaving school to the 19s and he has been drafted into the reserves, coping well.

"Hopefully he can maintain that progress; he is a good size for a centre back at 6'1" plus, he is good in the air and he has got good movement and control.

"He is a good reader of the game as well, and I think that comes from the fact that he used to be a midfield player so he has been used to seeing lots of the ball and being creative with it.

"That has helped him as he has stepped into the defence, and he is following the route one or two others have taken, notably Rio Ferdinand.

"It is not unusual for midfield players to become not quite the midfield player they wished to be but become a good centre back with good technical ability.

"You have got to produce defenders who are comfortable with the ball these days, and if they have been in advanced positions in their development it will set them in good stead."