Southampton’s Under-23s travel to last season’s Division 2 champions Wolverhampton Wanderers tonight in Premier League 2 - with a point to prove.
It was Wolves who pipped Saints to the automatic promotion spot by virtue of goal difference during 2018/19 - although Radhi Jaïdi’s side still gained a place in Division One after a successful play-off campaign.
Tonight’s game represents the meeting of two sides who are still finding their feet in the league above, but who are both very much capable of climbing the table.
Wolves sit sixth, having registered wins over Man City and Blackburn, as well as claiming a valuable point against Arsenal last time out.
Saints hosted Chelsea at St Mary’s in their most recent clash, losing out 2-0, with the PL2 leaders fielding the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was incidentally on the scoresheet.
Coach Jaïdi was indeed encouraged by that performance, in spite of the result, and continues to be pleased by the development of a particularly young crop of Saints.
“Last week the performance against Chelsea was good in spells,” he began. “Sometimes difficult results are harder to accept for younger boys.
“The main thing is we continue to focus on improvement and development. These boys are testing themselves against the best young players in the country.
“They’re getting opportunities every week to show what they can do and they must take those.”