Checkatrade Trophy is of vital importance, says Hunter

By SFC Media Wed 21 Dec Saints v Reading
Photo by Naomi Baker | Martin Hunter at St Mary's

Technical Director Martin Hunter says the Checkatrade Trophy is of vital importance to the development of Southampton’s young players.

Saints take on Reading at St Mary’s, with a chance to progress into the third round to play Yeovil away from home.

And Hunter has been pleased with his side’s performances in the competition thus far.

He said: “It has been very, very beneficial for our young players.

“It’s another piece in their jigsaw, in terms of people saying that they don’t get enough of an opportunity to play against men.

“It’s the acid test, to quote an old cliché. The small stadium pitch here at Staplewood is good, but you need experience of playing at places like Charlton and St Mary’s.

“It’s been very important for their development and their learning curve. So far, so good - we’ve had three good performances and are hoping for the same on Wednesday evening.

“All three games were slightly different. The first one against Charlton was a tough game, but once we got into the running of the game I felt we played particularly well.”

A number of players have been handed first-team opportunities this season, including Josh Sims and Olufela Olomola. 

The plethora of games is something which Hunter believes can only accelerate the feeling of being in the first-team squad.

“We’ve got two cup competitions with the Premier League Cup, as well as the league programme,” he continued.

“That gives us in excess of 30 games this season, which is really good because it prepares the players for what they will face as they progress into the first-team.

“It all adds to the experience and the physicality and what they will be expected to do if they get into our first team, go and sign for another club or go out on loan.”

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