Martin Hunter believes his Southampton Under-23s side will benefit from a stiff contest with Crawley Town on Wednesday night.
Saints host the League Two outfit at St Mary’s in the final group match of the Checkatrade Trophy, with both sides having already progressed into the knockout stages.
“They’ll be a very big threat,” Hunter explained.
“We are obviously playing against a senior team and the constraints of the competition mean that the opposition have to be strong, which from our point of view is very good for our young players.
“For us this is a very important competition - we want our players to experience as many matches at this level as they possibly can.
“Having them pit their wits both physically and mentally against men’s teams allows us to see how they cope with demands that they wouldn’t usually face in Under-23s matches.”
Saints currently sit second in the Southern Group E table, just two points behind Crawley in first.
And Hunter is hoping that his men can pick up a positive result and leapfrog the West Sussex side to finish top of the group.
“It could be a very special evening,” he continued.
“It’s terrific to play at St Mary’s – there’s a definite atmosphere and buzz about the place and it’s a different environment for the players to deal with.
“Playing the games at the training ground is good, but playing at the stadium adds an extra bit of pressure onto the players and really shows us what they can do.”