Get the lowdown on tonight's Checkatrade Trophy opponents, as Southampton's youngsters open their Group H account against Colchester United.
Colchester United vs Southampton
Tuesday 4th September, 7:45pm BST
Colchester Community Stadium
This evening's hosts have made a strong start to their 2018/19 League Two campaign, gaining their first away win of the season at the weekend, with a 3-1 success at Cheltenham.
They're currently the fourth tier's fourth placed side, while Southampton's youngsters are too competing at the top end of their respective league, having enjoyed an unbeaten start to Premier League 2.
Tonight's opening clash with be repeat of Saints' first Checkatrade Trophy involvement, back in 2016, where Radhi Jaïdi's youngsters emerged 2-1 victors from the Colchester Community Stadium.
United manager John McGreal is said to have prepared a number of his own younger players to feature tonight, but is also keen to extend his side's impressive early-season goal ratio - the U’s are currently joint second-highest goalscorers in League Two with 13 goals.
FLASHBACK: Colchester 1-2 Saints
STAR MAN: Luke Norris
A summer signing from fellow League Two side Swindon, Norris made the most of his first league start of the season on Saturday with a brace at Cheltenham, taking his goal tally to four for his new club.
The striker began his career at Brentford but found first-team opportunities hard to come by, so joined Gillingham after a collection of loan moves away from Griffin Park.
After 15 goals in two seasons for the Kent outfit, he made the move to Swindon, finishing as the club’s leading scorer with 14 goals last term – his second year at the County Ground.
Despite signing a new deal in the summer, a fee was agreed to bring Norris to Colchester, where some cameo roles off the bench earned his first start – an opportunity he seized in style.
Colchester boss John McGreal has paid tribute to his young team, who moved up to fourth in the League Two table with a 3-1 victory at Cheltenham on Saturday.
“That’s our job, to bring boys through and we really believe in what we do,” said McGreal, a former defender who made over 400 league appearances for Tranmere, Ipswich and Burnley.
“We’ve done it over a number of years and now we’re getting the fruits of our labour. The challenge now is who the next one is.
“We weren’t going to bring in players just for the sake of it – we wanted to complement what we’ve already got here.
“We’ve had six (Academy players) starting our last four league games but it doesn’t get raised, because it’s what we’re about. The average age is around 24 so we’re a really young team.”