Radhi Jaïdi hopes that Southampton Under-21s can use St Mary’s as a platform to reach the last eight of the Under-21 Premier League Cup against Huddersfield Town on Monday night.
The team began the defence of their trophy earlier this month with a 1-0 win over Chelsea at Staplewood, and now prepare to host a Huddersfield side who are unbeaten in their previous 15 matches.
“We have bits on Huddersfield and throughout the week we’ll know more,” the assistant under-21s boss told youtube.com/southamptonfc
“We know that they have won around 14 of their last 15 and drew the last game so that sums up everything. We’re going to come up against a team who are probably physical and hard workers on the pitch and, of course, it’s a cup game so there’s no rules or prediction before that.
“We expect a good challenge, we know for a fact that their manager came and watched us at Man United, so it’s a good challenge and one we expect to be a good test of the boys.
“I know they won recently against Middlesbrough in the last round and we saw the way they play and the style of play they use, so we’re ready for that. We expect a good challenge from them coming to St Mary’s as it’s a good opportunity for them to show what they’ve got.”
Saints return to the scene of their trophy win from last season for this tie, and Jaïdi hopes that his team will be inspired by their surroundings in order to progress.
“As coaches we don’t think about defending the trophy,” he said. “The players may think about it, but the main thing is that we’re looking for the players to make the difference in the game and deal with the pressure, deal with the environment.
"We don’t play at St Mary’s every day, so it’s a good opportunity for them to show their ability and how to step up and show how they deal with the situations.
“At St Mary’s it feels like a bigger pitch and hopefully lots of fans will come too. It’s a different environment from what we normally use at the training ground so that’s a great opportunity for the boys and, as I said, for us to highlight to the players, which ones are going to step up and show their abilities.
“It enables us to prepare even better for this game, it’s a special game – a cup game, and we don’t have that every day, so it’s a great opportunity for the boys to be ready for that, but they need to prepare.”
As someone who has been there and done it at the highest level, Jaïdi’s tip to the team is to keep it simple.
“The players need to show commitment,” he said. “They need to be more committed to what they do, push more and demand more from themselves as maximum as possible because it’s a great period for them to build up their own abilities. When they go to the next level it’s even more different so it’s a great opportunity for them to work on all aspects technically and tactically, to understand the football demands.
“We try to help them, we try to pass on our experience, but it’s also down to them to show what they want to achieve in their career.”