Albion PL2 boss Richard Beale is looking forward to seeing his team stretch themselves when they face Redditch United in the quarter-finals of the Birmingham Senior Cup on Monday night (ko 7.45pm).
Beale's youngsters have seen off Stratford and Hednesford Town so far, with striker Jovan Malcolm netting a hat-trick during a 4-0 win against the Bards in the first match of the tournament, before Fenton Heard's double at Keys Park helped Albion set up their last-eight encounter at the Trico Stadium.
The young Baggies’ opponents have beaten Birmingham City and Burton Albion on their way to the quarter-finals, with the winner of Monday’s clash set for a semi-final tie against Stourbridge.
And Albion’s PDP boss hopes it can be a good opportunity for some of the younger members of his squad to experience a different test, as they look to reach the last four of the competition.
Beale said: “We want our U18s and 21s to be as young as possible because it means we’ll have good players who can compete.
“If we can get the U18s populated with 15 and 16, 17-year-olds then great, and if we can get 16, 17, 18-year-olds in the 21s, which we are every game, then that’s really good.
“It means they’re getting exposure to a good level of football, but more importantly they’re getting stretched. We need them to be stretched all of the time and being in a comfort zone is the worst thing that can happen in academy football.
“We want as few of those players as possible and once they’ve become accustomed to the level we play at, and maybe opportunities aren’t available in the first team, then the other option is to go on loan.
“We’ve encouraged a lot of lads to get out on loan and the likes of Mo, Caleb, Zac, Tom have really grabbed that by the scruff of the neck this year and that experience will only bode well and it’s often the ones who do things right off the pitch are the ones that can carry it onto the pitch.
“We’re really looking forward to Monday’s game and it’ll be another opportunity to produce a positive display and show our performance levels.”