Southampton Under-23s coach Radhi Jaïdi says he is looking forward to another special occasion, when St Mary’s plays host to the Premier League 2 meeting with Chelsea this weekend.
Saints’ youngsters won the Premier League 2 Division Two play-off at the same venue last season against Newcastle United.
And Jaïdi feels that playing in front of a crowd is an invaluable experience for young players, which can only serve to keep their motivation to improve.
“Playing at St Mary’s is always special for these boys. Watching the first team playing every Saturday and then having that feeling of the crowd and the pitch.
“Just a feeling of what they experience on a weekly basis will give them hopes, dreams and keep them motivated to improve themselves.
“Last season we had good memories of playing at St Mary’s. We’re expecting the local people, young families to come down and see what the Southampton Academy looks like and hopefully see the younger boys performing and encourage them to reach their potential.”
Saints head into the meeting with the league leaders off the back of a positive result and performance against Tottenham last time out.
That 2-2 draw followed up a good showing in the EFL Trophy, and Jaïdi has also been pleased with the integration of some younger players into his squad.
“It’s really positive. I think the boys embraced all the information, the details and advice that we have given them.
“We stood up to the challenge. Obviously the EFL Trophy against Forest Green was really interesting for our young boys and I thought they sent a really good message.
“We took that positive performance to Spurs and we got a positive result. Against Chelsea it will be similar where we are looking for the performance and the development areas we’ve been working towards. Hopefully we can enjoy the St Mary’s experience.
“We have the core of the Under-23s but we have some players that we have integrated from the Under-18s who have been performing really well and showing their potential.
“We have promoted them to the Under-23s which is a better level with a better tempo and intensity. This is all what we do is to develop these players into young men and give them the experience for them to be challenging.
“Every time they show potential we try to help them to keep improving and challenge them so I think it’s been positive and it’s something we will carry on doing.”