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WATCH: McCarthy and Issott Discuss FA Youth Cup Tonight

18 January 2019

Tonight, Crystal Palace Under-18s will face off with Bolton Wanderers in the biggest game of their season yet under the lights of Selhurst Park as they vie to progress in the esteemed FA Youth Cup.

Guiding them through the match and tournament as a whole will be former Palace first-team defender Paddy McCarthy. 

McCarthy was with the club for eight years before moving into a coaching role towards the tail end of his career and he now manages the Under-18s at Palace's Beckenham Academy site.

Looking ahead to his young side's Youth Cup battle tonight at 19.00, he said, "It’s massive. I think it’s the first fixture the lads look at every season, it’s always a big occasion, especially a home draw at Selhurst Park. The lads are really excited for it and I’m excited as a coach."

But McCarthy isn't the only one who's brought Palace's Under-18s through the season so far and helped them to defeat Cogehoe United in order to secure tonight's opportunity to play in front of a crowd at Selhurst Park. He and the team are supported by a whole host of staff led by academy director Gary Issott.

"It’s the biggest tournament in youth football," Issott explained, "so we just hope that we can get a good run in it. We’ve got a home tie but it will be tough. Bolton are a good side, we’ve already played them this year. Yeah, we’re looking forward to the tie."

One key aspect of competing in the FA Youth Cup is that the young players are given the chance to play in front of a crowd, which is a rare opportunity earned only a handful of times - if not just once - in a season.

Speaking on the impact of having so many fans present to watch such young athletes play, McCarthy said, "I know last year when we played at Selhurst [in the Youth Cup], we had a good showing of people; massive support from the Fanatics.

"I was speaking to the lads afterwards, they [the fans] made a massive difference to the occasion and made a massive difference to the performance of the lads. They really enjoyed it and hopefully this year we can go one step further and get more people down to support the players."

To join that crowd and support the next generation of Crystal Palace, make sure to buy your ticket for tonight here.

And to hear more from McCarthy and Issott, watch their full interview below along with clips of the lads in training before the Bolton clash.

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