Southampton Under-23s coach Radhi Jaïdi says he is looking forward to the club’s youngsters embracing this season’s leasing.com Trophy, ahead of tonight’s opener at Forest Green.
In a break from Premier League 2 action, Saints head to The New Lawn to face League Two opponents.
And Jaïdi feels that the experience of senior football in the competition is something that can only be beneficial for his group.
“I think this is really good experience and a very good opportunity for our Under-23s boys, considering we’ve been in transition and having some younger boys involved due to first-team call-ups, internationals and some injuries,” Jaïdi said.
“This is really good opportunity for the boys to experience real football against experienced teams and obviously seniors.
“We know about Forest Green, they’ve had a good start to the season and we’re looking forward to it.
“It is really beneficial for 16, 17 year-old players to be involved in this game at times and give them a real taste of what senior football looks like.
“We’re expecting the players to step up, do the basics right and then try to showcase their quality and potential.”
Opponents Forest Green have made a good start to their League Two campaign, sitting 9th in the table under the stewardship of Mark Cooper.
Cooper has hinted at rotating his squad to give valuable minutes to players who need it, but says the hosts will be using to competition to try and get all the way to Wembley.
Speaking about Forest Green’s style, Jaïdi added: “They look like they try to play football and play out from the back. We saw that some of their goalkeepers who try to step up and play through balls between the blocks.
“This is probably the best game that we can face and the best team we can face in terms of their style at this level.
“Of course I’m expecting some changes from them where they introduce some of their younger boys but again from both sides it will be a very offensive and energetic game.”