Southampton Under-18s manager Craig Fleming wants his players to take confidence from their previous meeting with Chelsea, ahead of Saturday’s clash with the top-of-the-table side.
Saints ran out 3-2 victors at Staplewood Campus back in August, but Chelsea have since enjoyed an unbeaten run of seven games in the league.
“They are a very good team,” said Fleming.
“We beat them at home, albeit we had our older second years out, so it was an equal match.
“But they have gone on from strength to strength since then and are top of the league now, so it will be a good test for the boys.
“They will be coming up against some very good players. But the important thing is we have shown that, if we execute our game plan, they are still beatable.”
Fleming has already seen a number of his players move up through the ranks to play with the Under-23s so far this term.
And the manager is very proud of the positive progression his side are showing, particularly given the age of some of those coming through.
“There’s a lot of quality there,” he continues.
“From the first year scholars to the second year pros, the difference between the very youngest to the very oldest isn’t as big as it has been in previous years.
“We join them in to play as a group during training and it’s pretty tight. The gap is a lot closer than it has been.
“You only have to look at first years like Jake Vokins and Will Smallbone, who both looked comfortable against Crawley’s first team with the Under-23s, to see that.”