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Rory Delap on Stoke under-18s

Rory Delap tells Radio Stoke: “No matter what age or competition you’re in, it’s tough to get to the finals of things and doesn’t happen often. For a club like Stoke to get there is a real achievement. They won’t see it like that this morning or last night but it was an achievement to beat Chelsea in the semi in real difficult weather conditions.

“They’ve had a very good season. A lot have gone out and played senior football on loan too. Rich (Walker) and Hibbo (Dave Hibbert) and Gaz Owen do a lot of work to give them experience of senior football. We’re seeing the benefits of that when they come back.

“They look stronger and they’ve got more game understanding and knowledge in terms of how to win a game of football. It’s not all about that at youth level but it’s important when you make that next step up.”

And watching his son Liam Delap. take on Stoke…

Delap Sr says: “I see the work that Rich, Hibbo, Gaz, Kev (Russell) and Wade (Elliott), all the lads and all the coaches, sports scientists do in the Academy on a daily basis. I take a real interest in how those lads get on.

“I’ve formed a bond and relationship with those lads.

“I always want to see my son do well but I have to be professional about it. I didn’t celebrate his goal… but I was chuffed he scored!

“It’s a difficult one but I felt so bad for the lads because they didn’t perform to where they would expect or where the staff would expect. And their heads are down, they’ve done so well to get there, had a good season and still got more to go. It’s about shaking off that disappointment and hopefully one or two start to push for the first team squad and getting involvement between now and the end of the season.”

And is Liam as good as his old man?

“I wouldn’t dare tell you! It’s that far back,” he said.

“I started in a similar position but I didn’t have his pace or power and it took me a few more chances to put the ball in the back of the net!

“He’s enjoying it and that’s all I’m bothered about. I’ve never pushed him into it but he’s a good lad and if he keeps his head down and works hard, he’ll have a chance in the game.”

How about the long throws?

“I think he was put off when he was about an under-10!” laughed Delap.

“One of the parents shouted that he was ruining the game when he took a throw and he hasn’t taken one since. I don’t think that will be part of his game.”

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