The lowdown on our young Saints' weekend opponents, Swansea City...
Southampton U18 vs Swansea City U18
Under-18s Premier League
Saturday 16th March, 12pm GMT
It’s been a really positive turn of the year for Southampton’s youngsters, who have risen from ninth to sixth with a string of positive results - including three wins from five.
They face Swansea City at Staplewood on Saturday morning, who are incidentally bottom of the Under-18s Premier League, before a huge trip to Tottenham Hotspur’s newly built stadium on Sunday 24th March.
Paul Hardyman’s side are set to be the first team to play a competitive fixture at the new ground, with approximately 30,000 in attendance, but will first be hosting their Welsh counterparts, in a bid to move further up the league table.
And Saints could jump as high as fourth with victory, as they continue to chase down Fulham and West Ham, while the Swans could move off bottom if they were to snatch three points.
These two sides last met in early October, where Saints ran out 3-1 winners - Christian Norton, Will Ferry and Dare Olufunwa were all on the scoresheet that day.
COACH'S THOUGHTS: Paul Hardyman
Southampton’s youngsters recently learnt that they’ll be the first side to play at Tottenham Hotspurs’s new ground when they travel to London in the Under-18s Premier League next week - pretty exciting.
But for this Saturday, coach Paul Hardyman wants ultimate focus on their latest challengers, Swansea City, who are without a win since the turn of the year.
Form aside, Hardyman - who has tasked his side with finishing fourth - knows that every team in the Under-18s Premier League poses their own threat, and, irrespective of league standings, is expecting a tough contest.
“We’ve got another really important game before we play Spurs,” he began. “As always, we take each game as they come, so for me it’s about focussing on tomorrow and doing a job.
“We’ve got try and block out the excitement associated with the Spurs tie, because I want to concentrate on Swansea first.
“I expect ultimate focus. We went to Swansea earlier in the season and played well in the first half, but took our foot off the gas. We were quite fortunate with the result.
“We’d never write them off, that’s for sure. We’ll be preparing properly, and we’ve set the boys the challenge of finishing fourth this season. Good performances will lead to that.
“It’s a happy medium; being competitive and wanting to win, but going about that in the right way and playing the right style of football.
“The fact that the first-years are enjoying plenty of game time this season bodes really well for next year. They’ll benefit from that experience and it’ll only make us stronger going forward.”