SAINTS B head coach Dave Horseman assured that “we will be removing good players from this group” and thanked his staff for their enthusiasm in developing youngsters.
The former Bristol City man is preparing to take on the top-flight group at the Staplewood campus-based academy for his fourth season, with Premier League 2 kicking off next month.
Horseman and Saints B will be looking to do better than last campaign, where, after a difficult start, they finished outside the Division Two play-offs on goal difference.
They are still looking for a first pre-season win, with two more clashes to go before they travel to Nottingham Forest on August 8, following an intense 2-2 draw with Eastleigh on Tuesday.
“I thought Eastleigh were excellent,” admitted Horseman, after watching his team take a two-goal lead but then be defeated by a physical challenge in the second period.
“I thought maybe the bar would end up in one box and a few moments wasted in the other box, overall I thought there were a lot of positives to take away tonight,” he said. added.
“Both individually and collectively. So it was intense and that’s what we need – we need those challenges.
“We have enthusiastic staff and we should be. We have a brilliant job and life isn’t so bad! If we continue, we will definitely remove good players from this group.
Horseman works alongside individual player coach Lee Skyrme, as well as Louis Carey – who started his Saints career as an Under-8s coach at the Bath centre.
One of their new B-team starlets, 18-year-old winger Diamond Edwards, traveled with Ralph Hasenhuttl and the first team for the pre-season tour of Austria.
The youngster played at right-back in the boss’s new system, impressing the coaches before returning to the Under-21 squad – who themselves visited Spain.
Edwards scored the opener of the 2-2 draw with a neat finish on experienced stopper Joe McDonnell, after a set-up inside the area by Kamari Doyle.
“I think Diamond did really well, but we have to be patient,” Horseman insisted.
“We have to understand that he missed 18 months of football, so physically he has a lot to do because he hasn’t played much football.
“Technically and tactically to make sure he’s in the goalscoring positions, we’re delighted with his goal tonight because it’s something he needs to do more of.
“But he’s a bright boy, he really wants to learn, he’s enthusiastic and because of that he has a chance to play at a decent level.”
Horseman will be without some of their B-team stars in recent campaigns, having captained full-back Thierry Small and tackle-captain Kegs Chauke on loan from League One.
To remember Thierry Small will only be 18 next week and he is already too good for PL2.
He wanted a #SaintsFC first-team path to emerge, given the lack of depth, but a few more minutes are needed.
The potential is frightening, with an experience to beat every nerve. I hope to see him excel.
— Alfie House (@AlfieHouseEcho) July 26, 2022
Despite only turning 18 next week, Small had passed Premier League 2 and was hoping for a first-team chance at Saints – but it appeared on the trip to Austria that he needed more minutes.
“We are very close with Butts (Danny Butterfield) and the loan team, we work hand in hand and we talk a lot about the young players – and with the first team,” Horseman said.
“They just need to gain experience. We sometimes play a completely different style than others, so they have to adapt because they won’t be ball-oriented.
“They won’t accumulate as dice and all the other words we use, they won’t use any of that. It is therefore above all a question of adapting.
He continued: “Then I think they really need to use their environment, you’re going to be working with really good managers and coaches, playing alongside experienced pros.”
Small and Chauke both made their debuts under Hasenhuttl, but have yet to play a long stretch of senior football.
“Hopefully if they imbibe they come back better players – that’s the point of a loan. I will say that I think loans are really difficult, especially first loans,” admitted Horseman.
“There are very few people who snatch a loan because it’s so different from your environment. But it’s embracing learning from that and when they do they’ll come back and be better players and that’s anything you can really ask of them.
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