Vardy to face own academy graduate in FA Cup fourth-round tie

LONDON: England striker Jamie Vardy is in line to come up against one of his own academy ‘graduates’ when Leicester City face Peterborough United in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Vardy set up the V9 Academy two years ago in the hope of encouraging others to follow in his footsteps by moving from the world of non-league, semi-professional football into the ranks of full-time players.

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Before the start of this season, third-tier Peterborough signed Alex Penny from Nuneaton Town after the defender shone during a trial at Vardy’s academy.

Penny, who worked in a restaurant when playing for Nuneaton, joked he’d have no qualms about marking Vardy because he is faster over the turf than the experienced Premier League forward.

“Everyone has been saying that when the ball goes in the channel it’s a race between me and him and he’s nervous because he knows I’m going to burn him, I know I am faster than him,” he said.

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Vardy replied to Penny’s comments by saying: “It will be interesting but we will wait and see as there haven’t been that many people who can catch me. Hopefully though he will have a good game, but not too good as obviously Leicester want to be getting through to the next round. It will be a good experience for us both.”

Last year saw the V9 Academy help produce four professional players and Vardy believes they can at least match that number in 2018.

“We set a target and we hit it but there is loads and loads of talent out there,” he said. “We have opened it up to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales this time as well to showcase more talent and give more players an opportunity. We are aiming to get four players signed up professionally again and I’m over the moon about that but hopefully we will get more.”

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