Carr ready for Boro test

Tony Carr is looking forward to locking horns with old pal David Parnaby when two of English football's most-respected youth systems go head-to-head on Friday.

West Ham United's Academy Director is good friends with Middlesbrough counterpart Parnaby, with both men having garnered fine reputations for their ability to unearth promising young talent.

While the Hammers have brought through the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Glen Johnson and Mark Noble in recent years, Middlesbrough have also done their bit for homegrown players, with Lee Cattermole, Stewart Downing and Adam Johnson all making their name on Teesside.

The two clubs have not met at Academy level since the mid-1990s, when then-schoolboy Cole was handed an early chance to impress at Boro's Rockliffe Park training headquarters.

Having been defeated 3-2 at West Bromwich Albion in their opening FA Premier Academy League fixture last Saturday, Carr is determined to get one over Parnaby at Little Heath, where kick-off is at 2.30pm.

"We're looking forward to it. Obviously Middlesbrough aren't a team that we play regularly and we haven't played them for many years.

"I remember taking them on in the play-offs a few years back when we took young Joe Cole with us to their Rockliffe training ground when he was just a schoolboy.

"I know their Academy manager David Parnaby very well and Middlesbrough have a fine reputation for bringing through youth players. David's son Stuart is one of a number of players who have come through their ranks.

"I am looking forward to seeing Dave and also to getting our first win of the season if we can. I don't know their players individually but I know they will try to play good football. They like to produce home-grown players and they have done in abundance over the last ten years.

"In terms of how good they are, I don't know, but I know it'll be a good game of football."

Carr will hope his youngsters can rise to the challenge against Middlesbrough, who began their own Academy League campaign with a 1-0 victory over Fulham last weekend, despite the absence of England U17 midfielder Matthias Fanimo, Australia U17 forward Dylan Tombides and Republic of Ireland U18 forward Daniel Purdy through international duty and Blair Turgott through injury.

"We have a few players away so we'll be a bit depleted, but their absence gives other young players a chance to come in and do well."

Admission and parking at Little Heath for Friday's fixture are both free.