Fleming: Keep pushing

By SFC Media Fri 19 Jan Saints v Fulham
Photo by James Bridle | Craig Fleming

A short turnaround after their midweek FA Youth Cup exploits, Southampton’s youngsters are swiftly back in action this weekend, as Staplewood prepares to host Fulham.

Craig Fleming is keen for his young side to put the arduous Blackpool trip behind them, and focus on their productive Under-18s Premier League form.

An unbeaten streak stretching back to mid-October has earned the teenagers a chance to leap in to third place in the standings with victory this weekend - the perfect tonic to Tuesday night’s disappointment.

“They were a bit down, understandably,” Fleming conceded. “Going out of the Youth Cup is a big deal for them. They know they didn’t perform at the levels they’re capable of.

“We try and preach that every game is as important as the next, but of course there is an air of disappointment after Tuesday.

“We’re definitely looking forward to the second part of the season now. It will be tough physically tomorrow, playing 120 minutes is demanding for young players.

“But we’ll change it around a bit, put a few fresh legs in the side and see how they go. We’ve found a good bit of consistency in the league, that needs to be maintained. Keep pushing.”

Southampton's U18s return to Staplewood Campus tomorrow to face Fulham

Asked about the overarching aims for the remainder of the campaign, Fleming added: “We want results, of course, but our main focus remains on developing young talent - trying to get this group ready for Under-23s football and beyond.

“We’re constantly identifying areas we need to improve and working on it on a daily basis.

“I like the way Fulham do things, they have a good mix. We were poor at their place earlier in the season, but that being said, Fulham were excellent. Similar to ourselves in the way they setup so it'll be tough.”

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