Carr up for cup tonight

Tony Carr is up for the challenge of taking on Manchester United in tonight's mouth-watering FA Youth Cup tie at the Boleyn Ground - kick-off 7pm.

The Under-18s warmed up for the fourth-round fixture with a training session on the Upton Park pitch on Tuesday, and Carr said his players could not wait for the game to start. The Hammers, who last won this competition in 1999 with the likes of Joe Cole and Michael Carrick, won through to this stage with a 5-0 defeat of Aldershot Town while the Red Devils were 3-2 winners against Portsmouth.

Carr is expecting a stiffer test this time around. "Manchester United go through reputation," he told WHUTV. "They are one of the biggest clubs in the country and they have a proud tradiion of proudcing youth players like ourselves.

"You must give them the utmost respect. It will be an open attacking game I am sure and we are looking forward to it. We have great respect for them and their reputation."

With the pitches at Little Heath waterlogged, Carr and his team were given permission to train at the stadium on Tuesday. It was a useful exercise, not just in getting a chance to swap Astroturf for grass but also to get more precious practice time on the big stage of the Boleyn.

"The weather has made it difficult, with all the water laying around making the pitches heavy and waterlogged. Training at Upton Park as been a boost to the boys and allowed us to get used to the pitch which we don't use that often. It is maybe a little bit of an advantage to have trained on it the day before the game and it was a fantastic boost.

"Our needs have to be measured against the needs of the first team but they are away this weekend. It made it easier for us. If we couldn't have trained there, we would have had to train on Astroturf again. We did that on Monday so to do it for two days running would not have been ideal."

Carr's youngsters spent last week in Abu Dhabi on an all-expenses paid trip courtesy of their hosts. The Hammers were 3-1 winners against Hamburger SV in their first match before losing to local club Baniyas FC in the final.

"It came after our two week winter break and it was great to get this opportunity. It got us back to into the swing of playing again with warm weather. The temperatures were in the 70s. It was nice to have sunshine, blue skies and grass to play on.

"It was a great experinece and a great opportunity to get some training in before the FA Youth Cup. We have players in form and hopefully we can take that into the Man United game."

The Hammers have lifted the FA Youth Cup on three previous occasions - 1963, 1981 and 1999. United have won the competition a record nine times, with their most recent success coming in 2003.

Dylan Tombides and Sebastian Lletget

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