A young Southampton side kicked off a week-long training camp in the Midlands with defeat yesterday, going down 2-0 to the Nike Academy at St George’s Park.
Despite the scoreline, Saints limited the opposition to only a few chances on goal and created plenty of chances of their own, but were unable to make them count.
Under-18 coach Craig Fleming took charge of the side and confessed his disappointment at conceding from a corner and a defensive error, but insists he is more focused on the players’ fitness than the scoreline.
“It was a good work out if I’m honest,” he told saintsfc.co.uk. “We were a very young side – both the Under-18s and the Under-21s are young on this trip.
“We had a lot of the first-year scholars in with no Under-21s or professionals in side, against a Nike Academy team which had several 20 and 21 year-olds.
“Mainly it’s about fitness levels and the players getting minutes on the pitch, keeping injury-free and getting them to understand the way we play.”
Considering the age gap compared to the Nike Academy, Fleming was impressed by his players’ reaction to conceding two early goals and believes they handled the situation well.
He added: “The first-year scholars are now learning about what is expected of them at this level and the principles of how we want them to play.
“I think the players have handled the age gap very well, as it is difficult having a four- to five-year age gap physically, but technically I think they coped very well.”