Youth boss: Millwall and Charlton competing for players

© Millwall FC
© Millwall FC

LARRY McAvoy is expecting a much tougher test for his young players against London rivals Charlton in the FA Youth Cup next month – and revealed the rivalry between the clubs stretches beyond the pitch to the recruitment of players.

Mikael Ndjoli scored four goals in the 9-1 win over non-league Woodbridge Town in the second round on Monday.

Charlton advanced to the third round with a 7-1 dismantling of Brentford.

And McAvoy, who coaches the U18s with former Republic of Ireland striker David Connolly, admitted the Addicks will present a significant obstacle.

“I went to watch Charlton on Saturday versus Brentford and they are a really strong side,” he said.

“They’ve got two boys, Karlan Ahearne-Grant and Ademola Lookman, who are centre-forwards that play in the Championship for the first team.

“They’ve a lot of boys playing for the U21s and they will put out their strongest side in terms of those boys coming back in. They’ll be really strong.

“With us and Charlton we’re both striving for the same sort of players, from south London. Sometimes they’ll get him, sometimes we’ll get him.”

Greenwich-born Ahearne-Grant and Lookman, who joined from Waterloo FC, are two of Charlton’s brightest prospects. Eighteen-year-old Lookman made his competitive debut for the Addicks this month, while Ahearne-Grant, also 18, has made six appearances for the first team this season, scoring two goals.

Millwall have a core of players who are U21 regulars this season, but the likes of Noah Chesmain and Harry Girling have yet to make their senior competitive debuts.

And McAvoy believes his young players will be taking on Chartlon’s most formidable underage side at The Valley.

He said: “All the boys will know each other, generally. Charlton and Crystal Palace, but certainly more the Charlton game, it’s one the boys look forward to every year.

“It’s a real mouth-watering tie and we’re under no illusions what we’re up against. The U18s is probably their strongest age group.

“It’ll be a completely different game from Woodbridge.”

John Kelly