Martin Hunter is determined to end Saints Development Squad’s season positively with a victory over Newcastle United on Thursday.
In what could prove to be Southampton Under-21s’ last fixture of the season if they don’t qualify for the Barclays Under-21 Premier League Final Stage with numerous teams trailing closely with games in hand, the coach wants to round off a campaign that he feels has been a ‘massive success’ in fitting fashion.
Despite the Magpies languishing in 21st in the league, Hunter is wary of their athleticism ahead of the clash, which is being held at St Mary’s with a 2pm kick-off.
“We want to finish the season on a high and three points is very valuable, but it’s also the way we get the three points,” Hunter stressed to saintsfc.co.uk.
“If we play like the First Team – which we always try to do – then we have a very good chance of winning the game.
“I think this season has been a massive success. It’s not just that our boys have done well in the league; a lot of them have trained with the First Team and some of them are currently on the fringes of the squad and have made their debuts. It’s been a terrific season.
“Newcastle have got quite a lot of foreign players in their squad and several fringe players that they’ve brought into the club. They’re quite an athletic team.
“They’ll try and play out from the back and rotate their front players in a similar way that we do.
“They’ve just beaten Manchester United recently. It will be a tactical game, I’m quite sure.”
Hunter hailed the significance that playing in your team’s stadium carries and is relishing the benefits of potentially playing in front of a greater attendance than usual at St Mary’s tomorrow afternoon.
The U21 boss continued: “We’re at the stadium, which will give our players a lift but it will also give the opposition a boost. It’s a different environment, so we need to deal with that. We’ll deal with the opposition in the normal way.
“It should be a good occasion. It’s unfortunate that it’s in the early afternoon when a lot of people will be working, but for the players to play in this stadium is part of the way up the ladder to the First Team.
“It’s important for them to play in a fabulous stadium; that’s what they’re aspiring to do.”