Will Smallbone, Thomas O'Connor and Adam Parkes look ahead to the FA Youth Cup
Southampton Under-18s will continue their FA Youth Cup campaign on Wednesday night, as they take on Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium.
Craig Fleming’s men head into the tie with a spring in their step, having come from behind to defeat Manchester United 2-1 in the previous round.
And 17-year-old goalkeeper Adam Parkes is hoping Saints can use that dramatic victory at Old Trafford to their advantage.
“Obviously the spirits are high amongst everyone after the last game,” he starts.
“It was a brilliant result for us against Man United and the whole team played really well – it was a good collective performance.
“Now we are just looking forward to facing Wigan and hopefully we can get a result and push on in this competition."
Republic of Ireland youth international Thomas O’Connor netted the equaliser in the victory over Manchester United back in December.
And whilst the midfielder has fond memories of his right-footed strike, he admits the victory will mean nothing unless Saints can progress past the Latics.
“It was a special night, really,” O’Connor begins.
“Especially playing at Old Trafford in front of a big crowd. You don’t get to play at stadiums like that very often, so it was a great memory for us all.
“But now we all want to go into the Wigan game with the same mind-set that we approached United with. That victory won’t mean much unless we beat Wigan.
“We know it will be a tough game. I presume they are going to be strong, physical and a good footballing team. So we are going in with the same approach to win and hopefully we can perform on the day.”
O’Connor’s 82nd-minute goal at Old Trafford was followed up just three minutes later by substitute Will Smallbone’s superb strike to seal victory.
The 16-year-old match-winner, who has been with Saints since he was eight, is hopeful he can thrive on the big stage once again.
“It’s a big platform for us to showcase our talents,” he admits.
“It’s a great stage in another first-team stadium for us to show what we can do. Hopefully we can take that opportunity, just like we did against United.
“It means a lot to us because this is such a big competition for our age – hopefully we can just go as far as we can.
“It’s also good experience for us to play knockout football in these kinds of stadiums, especially against some of the best academies around.”
Testing themselves against the best of their peers clearly brings out an extra edge in Fleming’s pack.
But they are not getting carried away or taking anything for granted. The overall aim, for them all, is clearer than ever.
“For the whole team, it’s just an urge for us to kick on and really make it in the game,” Parkes explains.
“We’ve had great experiences early on; some professionals go through their whole careers and don’t play at places like Old Trafford, so it’s a privilege that we all want to make the most of.
“Heading into this game, we’ve had a little Christmas break which has done us all well. We have had the time to rest up so we are all eager and ready to go – we are all buzzing for the game.”