U18 Preview: Saints v Villa

By SFC Media Fri 09 Aug Saints v Aston Villa
Photo by James Bridle | Caleb Watts

The lowdown on the young Saints' Under-18 Premier League opening day opponents, Aston Villa...

Another league campaign gets under way for two of Southampton's teams tomorrow; the first-team travel to Burnley, while the Under-18s entertain Aston Villa at Staplewood.

Saints' youngsters finished last season strongly, holding down fourth place in the Under-18 Premier League (south), and have strengthened considerably over the summer, but will be without a number of players who are representing the club in a tournament out in China over the next fortnight.

Nevertheless, Paul Hardyman has been pleased with his young side's preparation over the summer, and is looking forward to a tough test against their Villa counterparts - who twice beat Saints in league competition last term.

Indeed Saints will be looking to start the new season with the same momentum as they finished the last one, winning five of their final seven games, while Villa may well take confidence from their 3-1 victory at Staplewood back in late April.

Leicester City 3-4 Southampton (April 2019)

Talking about his aims for tomorrow's season opener, and the campaign in general, Under-18s coach Paul Hardyman said: "I'm optimistic.

"We finished last season really strongly. It took us a little while to get going, but the performances were always there.

"We've added some real talent to the group this year, although some of those will be away in China for the first two weeks.

"As for tomorrow, we owe Aston Villa a performance. They beat us twice last season and both games were two of our poorest performances.

"There will be a chance for some of the younger boys this year, with individuals stepping up to the U23s, but that's great for their development. 

"The team will go out with a clear game plan tomorrow and we'll see where that gets us. The pre-season has, largely, been positive so I'm hopeful for a good start."

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