Having suffered defeat away to Chelsea in their latest Barclays Under-18 Premier League clash, Saints’ Under-18s are aiming to respond by securing all three points tomorrow.
After a fortnight's break since their last fixture, the youngsters play host to their West Bromwich Albion counterparts at Staplewood on Saturday at 1pm.
Tough encounters with the Londoners and Manchester United have broken up an encouraging streak that Saints will be looking to re-establish, following victories over Newcastle United, Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers.
U18s coach Paul Williams feels a two-week gap between the Chelsea and Baggies clashes has proved to be beneficial for the young Saints in their preparation.
The former Southampton defender said: “Sometimes it’s hard having a break but we’ve had some good work over the last two weeks, so it’s been good.
“I know we’ve lost a few games but in the majority of the games that we’ve won they’ve done the things we’ve asked them to do. If we do that again on Saturday I think we’ve got a better chance of winning the game.”
One youngster Williams was full of praise for was Marcus Barnes, a recent acquisition from Wolves whose transition into the side has appeared to be effortless, with the promising forward netting in each of his last three appearances.
“Marcus has done really well,” he added. “He came in and he’s really hungry for the game. His goals show that he can score but he’s a talent.
“Obviously his brother Giles is a good player too so hopefully we’ll see that come out in Marcus over the next couple of years.
“I’ve been more impressed with his attitude to learning and his attitude to wanting to play. He’s come in and settled in with the lads – I’m impressed. His goals are a bonus but his general application to learning is very good.
“His attitude towards to training has been helpful to everyone – he’s been an example. He’s come and settled really well, talking to the coaches and the team, he’s done that throughout his time here.”
Barnes epitomised Williams’ endorsement about the youngster’s desire to succeed by speaking of his determination to maintain his goalscoring run when he faces West Brom this weekend.
The striker feels he’s becoming increasingly accustomed to the U18s side and believes his teammates have been paramount to his current success.
“I’ve really settled in well,” Barnes declared. “I’ve really enjoyed it. I get on with the lads really well and training’s excellent, so I’m enjoying my time.
“They (Barnes’s teammates) have made it really easy. It was a bit hard to start, I’m still getting to know the lads – but I’ve got on well.
“I’m just buzzing to get another goal each game and keep adding them to the tally. I’ve got to put it down to the team as well, they’ve assisted my goals and they’re a big part of it.
“I feel much more a part of it, just being with everybody celebrating – a bit of togetherness, really.”