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Academy: Ian McGuckin looks ahead to cup semi-final

22 February 2024

Club News

Academy: Ian McGuckin looks ahead to cup semi-final

22 February 2024

Hartlepool United Academy travel to Preston North End on Saturday morning in the semi-final of the EFL Youth Alliance Cup northern section.

Pools have enjoyed some great results already in the competition, including a 5-2 home win over Stockport County in the last round, and McGuckin hopes his side can put on another strong display.

“We've done really well so far in the competition and we're really looking forward to it," he stated.

"We're going to use our time wisely to prepare as best we can and give ourselves every opportunity of progressing into the next round.

"Results are important in first-team football, and this competition provides a great development pathway to aid that. We're at the stage now where it's knockout football - the results mean more than the performances.

"We need to address our consistency but in general, especially in this cup, we've played really well and secured some great results.

"Pretty much everyone in our squad is fit at the moment. Max Storey has a bit of an illness but that's just precautionary so he should be fine.

"Ollie Duthie is continuing to make a return after a long time out, and Joel Ingram should be good to go after a few weeks out. That'll take us up to a full strength side, so everyone is raring to go.”

McGuckin also issued an update on the players currently gaining experience elsewehere in senior football.

“It’s important for players to go out and gain experience in different environments,” he added.

“It helps them progress on and off the pitch. It’s a new changing room, a new standard of football, and the focus is really on getting three points.

“Josh Mazfari has just joined Shildon on loan and he went straight into the team on Saturday. They recorded a 6-0 win over Whitley Bay on his debut, and beat West Allotment 4-1 on Tuesday night. Josh is 19, slightly older than the other lads, so it’s important for him to make that transition and get game time.

“Chris Lynn is gaining experience with Morpeth, only two leagues below our first team. He's had to serve a suspension unfortunately but he's back now and fighting for a place in the team.

“Leo Robinson went to Redcar Athletic and is now at Hebburn. He got an assist in his last game and he’s made an impact to them. They've had a lot of games called off with the pitches, so we're expecting him to play a lot of minutes towards the back end of the season.

“Joel White and Euan McBride are at Billingham Town - Euan scored a few weeks ago. We've had some good reviews about them - their attitudes have been very positive.

“And finally Millen Burnett is doing well at Billingham Synthonia - he's been an impact to them off the bench.

"Of course, Louis Stephenson is continuing to get minutes for the first team as well. I've watched the last two games and we're really pleased for him - now we want him to bring those performances consistantly."

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