Our Academy youngsters face Manchester City at the Riverside in the final stage of this year’s Premier League Cup, a competition which began with 24 of the country’s best young sides back in September.

Boro topped a group including Tottenham Hotspur, Wolves and Swansea City, before seeing off Everton (4-1) and Derby County (1-0 AET) in the knockout phase.

The Citizens now stand between Mark Tinkler’s side and silverware, with Liddle urging Boro fans to come to the Riverside on Thursday and show their support for our next generation of young talent.

“It’s a fantastic achievement for the Under-18 boys to reach the final,” he said.

“It’s a big occasion. The first team staff will be there and everyone at the club is looking forward to it.

“I think a lot of the boys won’t have played at the stadium so it’s one for them to look forward to as well.

“It’s another test, that added little bit of pressure, and playing against a huge club in Man City with some very talented players.

“It’s a really exciting night.”

The final will be a celebration of the team’s achievements so far, but Liddle says that first and foremost there is a game of football to be won.

“Academy football is about developing players for the first team,” Liddle said.

“But when you get to this stage of a competition it’s about winning.

“It’s a one-off, and what opportunity to play against some of the best in the world at their age level.

“Our coaching staff will have just about finished their work with the lads, they will be well prepared so hopefully we can go out and give a good account of ourselves, and ultimately win the game.”

Liddle says it’s the latest in what has been a stellar season for Boro’s Academy so far.

“We’ve had a bit of success this year with boys making debuts,” he said.

“And we’ve got boys out on loan playing league football.

“This now is the icing on the cake - a prestige game at the stadium to look forward to.”

Boro’s senior side play against Preston on Wednesday in the first of a Riverside double-header for the club.

Defender Nathan Wood, who became the club’s youngest-ever first team player earlier this season as well as featuring against the Lilywhites in the Carabao Cup, is in line to play for the Under-18s on Thursday - and is just one of a team that Liddle says is well worth watching.

“We’ve got one or two who’ll hopefully be available on Thursday night that have played in the first team,” the Academy manager said.

“Nathan is one who we think will be on show.

“And there’s some boys who hopefully over the next few years will be knocking on the manager’s door.

“If we can get a good crowd behind them, which I think they deserve, it’ll be fantastic for them.

“They’ll have a lot of family and friends there but it’ll be fantastic if the Middlesbrough public come out and support them as well.”

Watch the full interview with Craig Liddle in the video player above.

Tickets

All Season Card holders can attend this game free of charge. Season Cards will be activated for entry through the West Stand turnstiles. Seating will be unreserved.

Non-Season Card holder prices can be found below, with tickets available now from the Ticket Office (over the counter only):

  • Adults: £3.00
  • Children and Concessions (Over-65s, Under-18s, Students with a valid NUS Card): Free
  • Disabled: Full price with a free carer 
  • Family ticket (two adults and two children): £5.00

All general collections are available from the Ticket Office. 

Cash turnstiles will not be in operation on the day. Tickets will be sold from the Main Ticket Office only.