Richard Beale looks ahead to Sunderland PL2 showdown

Richard Beale

Albion PL2 boss Richard Beale is excited to see his players return to Premier League 2 football when they make the long trip up to Sunderland on Monday night (ko 7pm).

A strong first-half display in their last outing wasn’t enough to continue the young Baggies’ good start to the season, falling to defeat against Southampton.

Akeel Higgins, who netted in the 4-1 defeat on the south coast, has been one of several U18s players blooded in Beale’s side since the start of the campaign.

Akeel Higgins scored in Albion PL2's last game

And he hopes the blend of determined youngsters and hungry strikers can help Albion’s youngsters produce a successful performance in the North East.

“It’s been strange because once you’ve finished pre-season, you just want to play games. We’ve worked the lads really hard, they’re in a good place for Monday’s game and are chomping at the bit to get out there.

“We conceded just before half-time in our last game and we conceded more in the second half, but we had a lot of young players out there and that was a big plus point for us.

“All the players in the U21s are young, but some have already played games at this level and the quicker we can get the 16/17-year-olds more experience and up to speed with things, then all the better for them.

“It’s about blooding these young players and giving them their opportunity and results might suffer, but it’s secondary to giving those boys a pathway to play.

“We can’t get frustrated [at missing chances], or slash at opportunities or overthink things. We do plenty of finishing practice and we keep the players fit and strong, but ultimately the quality shines through and that’s why the top players earn the most because it’s the hardest part of the game.

Mo Faal will be looking to net his first goal of the season on Monday

“Those boys have got to get to that level, but we don’t worry about missing chances because we know we have some great players at the top end of the pitch who can score goals. They’ve been doing it all their lives but our job is to get them doing that at first-team level.

“I’m really looking forward to Sunderland. You can train, train, train all week and we’ve managed to get a lot of high-quality work into the boys, but it’s all about playing games and we all enjoy them more so we’re looking forward to having two in a week now.”

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