Southampton Under-18s host Fulham at Staplewood Campus on Saturday, and manager Craig Fleming is well aware of the threat the visitors will pose.
The Lilywhites sit just three points below Saints in 9th and Fleming wants to see an improved performance from the one that saw his side draw 2-2 with Leicester City in their previous league outing.
“We are expecting a pretty tough game, to be honest,” he explained.
“Fulham are a good footballing side and have had some decent recent results, so I imagine it will be a tough game.
“We’ve got so many in the 23s now that we are quite a young 18s side, but the boys have been doing very well.
“Looking back at last week, we certainly need to keep the ball better. We gave it away far too cheaply and far too often, which is unusual for us as it is usually one of our strengths.”
Will Smallbone scored within a minute last weekend against Leicester, as Saints went on to cement a two-goal lead by the break.
However, two late goals from the Foxes in the final stages of the encounter meant that Fleming’s men had to make do with a share of the spoils.
“We were all really disappointed,” Fleming continued.
“We have worked ever so hard on being resilient and defensively solid, and at 2-0 up we had three one-on-one chances to put the game to bed.
“After we didn’t take those we just seemed to get deeper and deeper, before then conceding two really soft goals.
“Naturally the boys were really down afterwards, but we’ve had a good week of training and I am sure they’ll bounce back against Fulham on Saturday.”