Butterfield: A buoyant mood

By SFC Media Fri 05 Jan Saints v West Ham
Photo by James Bridle | Danny Butterfield

An impressive end to 2017 has seen Southampton's Under-18s squad approach the New Year with an air of buoyancy, as crucial ties against West Ham and Blackpool near.

Saints host the Hammers at Staplewood tomorrow as they are reintroduced to competitive fixtures after a two-week festive break, before travelling to Blackpool in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup.

And while coaching duo Danny Butterfield and Craig Fleming are pleased with the progression of their teenage cohort, the message of 'continual improvement' is one that they are keen to press home.

"The lads have come back really energised, after a good flow of games. Consistency levels have been creeping up, but they are young lads so I hope they'll return ready to hit the ground running," Butterfield commented.

"They need to get themselves up to speed quickly, and focus - which is also part of mine and Craig's roles as coaches. They've looked bright in training.

"We've got a league fixture before Blackpool, and they will all undoubtedly be playing for a shirt for that FA Youth Cup tie. Our league form has been very good, and we have eyes on finishing as high as possible - but there is work to do."

U18s finished last year on a high with a resounding Youth Cup victory over Wolves

He added: "We'll maintain the message, 'go again'. The boys are grasping what is required, and understanding their roles and responsibilities more than ever. Everyone is contributing day to day in training, which can only help improvement.

"West Ham are a well renowned academy, so it'll be a competitive game. But we know if the boys can replicate the same intensity as before Christmas, we'll see a positive performance."

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