U18 Review: Craig Fleming

By SFC Media Sat 24 Mar Craig Fleming
Photo by James Bridle | Craig Fleming

With no Under-18s fixture this weekend, coach Craig Fleming has given us his thoughts on his side's season to date, and safe to say, Saints' plucky youngsters have been more than impressive.

Third in the table with four games remaining and an unbeaten league run stretching back to October 2017 has prompted Fleming to describe the current campaign as 'excellent', when asked to sum up this year's progress.

Saints' teenage cohort are well placed to pinch second place in the Under-18s Premier League, but most pleasing for the coaches has been the individual and collective development of the team, which has seen eight players make their Under-23s bow, and one a first-team debut.

"Really positive, it's been an excellent season," Fleming said, with confidence. "Both in terms of individual development, improvement, players earning contracts and as a team they've been fantastic.

"We're the only team in the country to have beaten Chelsea, excelled in the league, and a lot of them have gained 23s experience. So we're really happy.

"It has been a settled group, more or less the same personnel every week. They're very fit, they listen, and above all they are good honest lads. Right from pre-season until now, they've worked exceptionally hard.

"We'll be younger next year, but our goalposts don't change. We want to pursue development, and give the lads a chance to earn a professional contract.

"There's a good mixture of talent stepping up to the 23s setup. A great deal of pace, some steel and technical players. That's been the most pleasing thing this year, we've combined the technical/tactical with the rough and tough.

"They've handled both aspects well. At times we've needed to 'out-football' teams, and at times we've had to scrap and battle for points.

"Michael [Obafemi] went from scoring handfuls of goals for the 18s to a chance in the first-team, so it is clear that if you work hard and apply yourself correctly, the pathway is very much open at this football club."

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