Saints & Spitfires Link Up

By SFC Media time Tue 27 Nov Club

Saints are pleased to announce a new partnership with local Blue Square Bet South club Eastleigh.

The agreement will see some of our fixtures in the Barclays U21 Premier League staged at the Spitfires’ home ground, the Silverlake Stadium.

The first of these games will be the visit of Newcastle United on Monday 17th December (7pm kick off) for our final fixture in the National Group Stage.

As well as allowing us to stage certain U21 fixtures at a more accessible location, our new link-up will see the two clubs’ youth programmes share ideas on how to develop local youth football.

Les Reed, Executive Director of Saints’ Football Development & Support Centre (FDSC), hailed the Club’s new agreement with the Spitfires. 

He commented: "This is a great opportunity for our two clubs to form a relationship which benefits football in and around the Southampton community."

Saints’ Under-21s are now battling for a place in the Elite Group Stage of the Professional Development League, and will play more home games at the Silverlake Stadium after Christmas.

The U21s are currently playing in one of the three National Groups, which consists of the 22 teams who applied for Category One status under the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan.

The newly-created U21 Premier League has already been a major success, with players from our Development Squad having the opportunity to face top-class opposition from across the country and play at first-team stadia such as White Hart Lane already this season.

Under the rules of the competition, teams can name three overage outfield players plus an overage goalkeeper in any matchday squad, with Saints involving the likes of Artur Boruc, Danny Butterfield, Tadanari Lee, Ryan Dickson and Jonathan Forte so far this season.

Adam Lallana, James Ward-Prowse, Luke Shaw and Ben Reeves have progressed through our academy to make their Premier League debuts this season.

Youngsters such as Calum Chambers, Jack Stephens and Sam Hoskins have ambitions of breaking into the First Team, with fans able to get an early look at our next crop of youngsters as they feature for the Under-21s.

U21 Coach Martin Hunter said: "The Under-21 league benefits the technical development of home-grown players in a competitive environment. 

"It is a new rung on the ladder between the Youth Team and First Team, and prepares them better for that next step.

"Our best are being tested against the best young players of other Premier League clubs in an environment where fans can support the team as they do at St Mary’s."

Our U21s are two games away from the end of the National Group Stage, with two victories guaranteed to seal Saints' progression into the Elite Group Stage along with the top teams from the three National Groups.

Hunter’s side are in action at St Mary’s next Monday, when they host Manchester United for a 7pm kick off. Fans are invited to attend the game, with admission granted via the Itchen North Stand from 6pm.

The first part of the season is then rounded off against the Magpies at the Silverlake Stadium, with more fixtures to be scheduled after the festive break.

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