ALBION’s under-23s begin a run of four games in 12 days when they face Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium on Friday evening (ko 7pm).
The young Baggies travel down to the South Coast for the Premier League 2 Divison Two fixture before tackling Checkatrade Trophy ties at Accrington Stanley and Macclesfield either side of a PL Cup clash with Burnley - all before the international break.
But boss Jamie Smith believes the busy spell will be important in their development as professional footballers, and hopes his side can build on their seven-match unbeaten streak to keep morale high among the squad.
“It’ll be good for them to go on this run of successive games,” said Jamie.
“We talk about development, and if you look at the first-team fixtures at times this season, that’s what they have to go through. So it’s something that these players will have to deal with.
“It will be tough physically, but there are plenty of strategies now that the sports science department use to help players recover. It’s another challenge for them but one they’ll benefit from.
“It’s a very positive dressing room at the moment, and much more pleasant than being on a losing run, which we have done last season and also at the start of this one. It’s much more fun at the moment!”
Opponents Southampton have made a positive start to the campaign and currently sit fourth in the table having picked up 17 points from their opening nine fixtures, with Smith expecting the Saints to pose a difficult test.
“They’re another club with a fantastic reputation of developing players and always having good teams,” he added.
“It’ll be another tough game for us.”