U18 Preview: Saints vs Aston Villa

By SFC Media time Fri 12 Apr Saints v Aston Villa
Photo by James Bridle

Southampton’s youngsters embark upon their penultimate Under-18s Premier League fixture of the season this weekend, hosting Aston Villa at Staplewood.

Coming into the tie off the back of a dramatic comeback victory over Leicester City, Saints look well placed to finish inside the desirable top four, but can still be caught by West Ham who are three points behind.

A win on Saturday morning will seal fourth spot, though, and complete what has been a really positive second half of season, coming out on top in six of their nine encounters - only losing to the league’s top three sides.

This week's opponents Villa, in seventh, were edged out 3-2 by Spurs in their latest outing, but may be encouraged by the fact that they were 5-1 winners over Paul Hardyman’s side back in November - Saints’ heaviest defeat of the season.


Hardyman discusses his young side's change of fortune after the turn of the year, and how pleasing it's been to see young players develop and transition upwards; with three Under-18s involved in this week's Premier League International Cup semi-final meeting with Dinamo Zagreb.

"This year has flown by. Last home game of the season tomorrow," he began.

"There’s been a huge transformation this year; we only had one point after five games played at the start of the season.

"Personally, I’m very pleased with how the boys have responded. They’ve had to deal with a lot of change, and have coped very well.

"There were three U18s playing in the International Cup this week. Radhi [Jaïdi] trusts what we’re passing onto him and clearly the manager trusts the players moving up from the U23s. 

"There’s a great continuity going through the club and that’s so important for the younger boys. The biggest thing is providing opportunity, so these young lads have a chance to showcase what they can do.

"We were particularly poor against Aston Villa away, probably our worst performance of the season. That was a turning point for us, an eye opener for some of the lads.

"Our season changed from then on. There was an understanding from the boys and lessons learnt. We’ve shown a huge amount of character since then, to get to fourth in the table.

"Tomorrow is a game that we want to go and put right." 


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