Albion PL2 boss Richard Beale says his side will need to show ‘character’ when they take on Southampton at the New Bucks Head on Monday night (ko 7pm).
The young Baggies fell to their fifth defeat of the season in Premier League 2 Division 2 last time around after being narrowly edged out 3-2 by Birmingham City.
Despite not playing a game over the last two weeks, Albion’s 23s have prepared well for their fourth clash of the campaign against Saints.
Beale was able to give his squad valuable game time during two friendly matches and he hopes those minutes on the pitch will stand them in good stead for their clash with Southampton, as the Baggies look to bounce back with a win.
“The boys have been working on a few things to prepare them for action again on Monday,” said Beale.
“We’ve managed to work the boys really hard while giving them a weekend off, which is a rarity in football. We’ve played a few friendlies over the last week and that’s given us the chance to look at some trialists and give minutes to some of those first-team players who need them.
“We’ll have had a productive couple of weeks by the time the Southampton game comes around, and I believe that’ll show on the pitch.
“I felt a bit of naive defending cost us in the last game against Birmingham, and you aren’t going to win many games if you concede three goals. Defending starts right from the front of the team and we didn’t switch on during a couple of occasions, but those were fine margins.
“These games are there so the U23s can make mistakes and work on them. The ones who pick up those lessons quickest will be the ones who find themselves in and around someone’s first team in the future.
“We use the analysis sessions as a group, in units and as individuals to aid the lads in their learning process and we try and tailor training sessions to allow them to carry out what they've learned onto the pitch so they can avoid making the same mistakes.
“The lads are far more comfortable doing it now than they were at the start of the year. Some of their observations are really impressive and even if they aren’t academically bright, their footballing intelligence is very high because they’ve been playing since the age of five and six.
“They all know the game and are interpreting the matches a lot better, but that’s only a small part of the jigsaw which is going to help them become better players.
“Bouncing back this year has been down to the boys and their character. We work on building that character every single day, but the lads haven’t suffered a hangover from a defeat this season and the most important thing is their performance levels.
“If they remain high, then more individuals will progress through and we’ve been fortunate this year to have earned more wins than defeats and that’s helped the boys buy into our coaching ideas as well.
“We know what Southampton are about, but teams at this level can change so much from the last time you played them. You can’t overanalyse what the opposition are going to do and most development programmes focus on themselves, and that's what we’ve been doing.
“The boys will be ready and raring to go and hopefully they can put in a good display which they can turn into another win.”
How to follow the game
Tickets will be available for Albion’s PL2 clash with Saints at the New Bucks Head on Monday evening.
Season ticket holders can watch the match for free, while the prices stand at £5 for adults, and just £1 for juniors on the night.
Alternatively, season ticket holders and members can also enjoy a live stream of the match. Click here and log in with your My Albion account linked to your season ticket or membership.
The stream will begin 10 minutes before kick-off (6.50pm).
If you haven’t yet set up your account click here for instructions.
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