Martin Hunter is anticipating a good challenge for his Southampton’s Under-23 side as they kick-off their Checkatrade Trophy schedule at Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night.
Saints’ Technical Director says the experiences that the club’ young players will take from the competition shouldn’t be underestimated, with the trip to the Valley the first of three group stage matches for his side.
“It’s against mature first team players, there’ll be a crowd there and they’re learning,” Hunter told youtube.com/southamptonfc.
“It’s part of their development which is very, very important. It will be a much more physical game I’m sure and their decision-making will need to be spot-on, otherwise we’ll get exploited, but that’s part and parcel of their development.”
The revised Football League Trophy competition sees 16 Category One Academies join the 48 clubs from Leagues 1 and 2 in the tournament, but was not universally welcomed by some teams. Hunter affirmed that’s not the case with Saints, who elected to join in.
“There are massive benefits for our players for reasons I’ve explained, but there are many positives. Some other clubs see it as a negative, but we’re just looking forward to it,” he said.
“We’ve got two away games and one at St Mary’s so for us, it’s positive all-round for us.”
His side head into the game on the back of a 3-0 defeat against Sunderland in Premier League 2 on Sunday, meaning preparation time for the cup clash is limited to just 48 hours.
“We’ll prepare the same way,” he explained. “The recovery strategy will be vital, so when we finish the game, we’ll start recovering while we’re up there, then fly back down and still be in a recovery process on the Monday to get ready to go into the Tuesday.
“That’s all part and parcel of whether they’re going to be players at this club and play in Europe where the turnaround of the games come thick and fast. That is a great learning process.”