Cody Cropper feels his help in marshalling a young Saints Development Squad backline in their north-eastern pre-season trip has boosted his confidence and organisational ability.
Southampton have brought a particularly young squad to their base in Northumberland and 21-year-old Cropper has found himself having to be much more vocal in a bid to ease young defenders making strides into the Under-18 and Under-21 setups in the face of tough opposition such as Carlisle’s first team while on the trip.
While he admits it’s been a tougher experience for both himself and the young rearguard in front of him, the goalkeeper feels the amount of talking he’s had to do in a match while benefit his communication skills upon his return to the south coast.
“I’ve had to do a lot of talking with the younger ones in defence such as Richard Bakary, Alfie Jones and Ollie Cook,” Cody told saintsfc.co.uk. “They’re hard positions to play in at such a high level when you’re not used to it. It’s very hard.
“Right now, they’re only young and it’s tough for them to understand what we’re doing. At times I’ve been loving to the younger ones but at times I’ve also been aggressive. When you have to tell a player to do something over and over again it can get very tiring.
“When I was there age, it happened to me. You have to take the good with the bad and learn from your mistakes and improve.
“I feel that talking with these youngsters in a game so much has helped me. I feel that’s it kept me on my toes. If I’m involved with the first team when I get back to Southampton I feel it’ll have helped me to be more confident with the first team players because I’m coming from here with an aura and confidence drawn from helping them.
“When I go back to training in Southampton I feel I’ll be able to help the players in defence there. I feel more confident in my ability now to tell people what to do for the good of the team.”
Meanwhile, Cropper is hoping to use whatever time on the pitch he can get to prompt coach and Technical Director Martin Hunter to send on glowing reports to the likes of First Team Assistant Coach Sammy Lee and Senior Goalkeeping Coach Dave Watson.
Cropper assessed: “For me, it was a bit disappointing to go to Belgium, but this has been a great opportunity for me to get game-time here with the Under-21s, which is something that probably wouldn’t have happened if I went out with the first team.
“This trip has been a good opportunity for me to get my head down and work hard. Hopefully then Martin [Hunter] will go back to Sammy Lee, Dave Watson and the gaffer to say that I’ve been working hard and that they need to push me on out of this age group.”