Fleming: "We look a match for anyone"

By SFC Media Fri 23 Feb Swansea v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson | Craig Fleming

As well as emphasising the importance placed on performance and attitude, Under-18s coach Craig Fleming cannot deny the buzz around his young side, after a string of nine league games unbeaten propelled them into second in the table – level on points with Arsenal.

And with team selection stretched after injury problems and Under-23s call-ups, Fleming has been especially pleased with the less experienced members of his squad, who have all stepped up to the mark; epitomised by 16-year-old Sean Brennan's match-winning goal in the 1-0 victory over Aston Villa last Saturday.

With this week's scheduled game at Swansea postponed, it gave Fleming a chance to reflect on the season to date, with the Under-18s coach impressed by his young side's recent efforts.

"I've said it all along, it is the performances that we're after, but if good performances are winning us games then that is also a positive," Fleming reflected.

"We're pleased to be getting results, of course. We look a match for any side in the country in our current form.

"Myself and Butts (assistant coach Danny Butterfield) have learned from mistakes that we made in our playing days, and we try to make these young lads aware of the dangers before they happen. They're a good bunch, they listen and understand.

we look a match for any side in the country in our current form!

craig fleming
Under-18s coach

"This group have improved massively. If I look at where these lads were when they walked in the building to where they are now, it is unrecognisable for some – such a different level.

"We've got lads who are training regularly with the 23s and first-team, Michael [Obafemi] has made his first-team debut, some have earned professional contracts, so largely it has been a really positive year.

"The boys are starting to get a chance with the 23s now. Credit to Michael who scored his first goal at that level this week. Jake [Vokins] as well looked solid against Newcastle.

"It means we're scarce in terms of experienced players for the 18s, but, equally, the older lads are getting their chance and it paves the way for the first years to showcase their talent."

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