Jason Dodd is relishing the tough test that Saints Under-18s’ game with Chelsea will provide on Saturday, following their midweek FA Youth Cup exit.
After his side crashed out of the competition at the hands of Charlton Athletic in the Fourth Round, the coach feels a clash with that Blues that follows it swiftly represents an excellent chance to continue good recent form and replicate the busy fixture list that the First Team deals with.
“Chelsea will be really strong,” Dodd assessed. “It’s probably good for us to get another game quickly. We’ve evaluated the game against Charlton and had a little look at it – in parts we did well. We’re in a decent position. We’re in decent form. If you had told us at the start of the season where we’d be and the games we’d won at the moment, we’d have snapped your hand off.
“They (Chelsea) have got lots of technically good players. It’s going to be a test. We think that’s where our strengths are as well. It matches us up against them to see where we are. Some of the players came out of the game the other night with credit.
“I like having games. This is what the boys work for. For me, I’m happy with having plenty of games. It’s like the First Team – they have lots and lots of games. It’s not often we get to play in midweek, so it’s about how the lads recover. This is a learning curve for them.”
Dodd hinted that Ryan Seager could be involved for the youngsters, after the forward returned from a two-month injury with a half-hour substitute appearance in the cup loss on Wednesday night.
The coach admitted that with such a short period of time in between the Charlton loss and the weekend’s match, certain youngsters could suffer from fatigue and the Saints full-back might have to shuffle his pack for the Blues clash like he did mid-December away to Norwich.
“Ryan Seager will get more game-time, hopefully,” he revealed. “It’s good for Ryan because he was out for a period of time. It’ll be good to get him playing again and pushing on the door of the Under-21s.
“The Development Squad game is called off on Monday. Martin Hunter wants him to play a certain amount of time and it will benefit Ryan. We will do what’s best for Ryan.
“We were limited on numbers against Norwich when the lineup was changed. We had to do that. Now, we’ve got plenty of numbers so we haven’t really got to do that, but it’d be interesting to see how the lads are going to feel after Charlton. We’re not going to force some players, so it could open the door for others.”