Craig Fleming believes his young Southampton Under-18s side are on the right path ahead of this weekend’s trip to Norwich City.
With a number of his squad moving up to play for the Under-23s, Fleming has been tasked with bedding in a side of mostly first year scholars in recent weeks.
And despite Saturday’s defeat to Reading, he is positive they are heading in the right direction.
“There is no getting away from it, they have found it tough,” Fleming starts.
“It’s difficult for them dealing with lads that are physically more mature than them and further down the line with their development.
“Saturday was very disappointing, we conceded some sloppy goals, but all in all they are doing well. They are on an upward curve and that’s the main thing.
“Norwich will be similar. They’ve got a very strong team, as we have. But a lot of their boys are up with the Under-23s, so they don’t get to play very often. That sort of represents where they are in the league with us.”
The most recent player to have moved up to Martin Hunter and Radhi Jaïdi’s set-up is striker Jonathan Afolabi.
The 17-year-old made his second start for the Under-23s last week against Arsenal and found the net to put Saints ahead in the first half.
“It’s brilliant for him,” continued Fleming.
“To be honest with you, Jonathan came into the club and he wasn’t overawed but it was certainly a big shock for him. I think he was a little bit nervous when he first joined.
“So it’s just good to see him growing now and getting more confident and his performances are getting more and more consistent.
“He is growing and has probably been up there as one of the most improved from the start of the season to where we are now.”