Richard Beale | Mindset will be key to matching Chelsea quality

A photo of U21s boss Richard Beale encouraging his team on from The Hawthorns' home dugout during Albion's PL2 game against Blackburn

Professional Development Phase boss Richard Beale is excited to see how his players compete against “some of the best around” when Albion’s U21s play Chelsea at Kingsmeadow on Friday night (ko 7pm).

Although chances were few and far between during the PL2 team’s recent 0-0 draw with Sunderland, the Baggies’ young pros have enjoyed an undefeated start to the campaign - keeping two clean sheets and scoring six goals from their opening three matches.

But Friday will provide Albion’s hopefuls with their toughest test yet when they face the Blues’ world-renowned academy talent in Kingston upon Thames.

And Beale believes there’s no better way for his youngsters to prove their quality than by causing problems for the west London outfit under the lights.

“We’re really pleased with our start to the PL2 season,” said the U21s boss.

“There were also two superb bits of news for us last week.

“Firstly with Kevin Mfuamba signing his pro deal. Kevin is someone we rate really highly and we’re so pleased to have tied him down to a new contract here.

A photo of Albion youngster Kevin Mfuamba celebrating scoring against Blackburn Rovers during a PL2 game at The Hawthorns
Kevin Mfuamba celebrates scoring against Blackburn Rovers for the PL2 side

“He knows there’s going to be opportunities with us in the future and he’s a fantastic lad who listens and learns, and if he keeps his head down and improving the way he has been then he’s got a really good chance.

“We were also really happy to get Ruben Shakpoke over the line.

“He adds some real strength at the top end of the pitch and Ruben’s had some injury troubles over the last couple of years, but we’re looking forward to providing him with that platform to develop his career now.

“On the season so far we’ve kept two clean sheets, remained unbeaten and played some really good football at times. The boys are buzzing with confidence and now we’re looking forward to the challenge that Chelsea will bring us on Friday.

“There’s always plenty of areas to improve on and we’ve gone over the last game against Sunderland to develop those targets.

A photo of Albion PL2 boss Richard Beale overseeing training at the club's Walsall headquarters
A photo of PDP boss Richard Beale

“One of them being to get a hold of the ball more, control games a bit better when we’re in possession, and we always want to go forward when we can.

“We don’t want our games to be basketball-style and end-to-end. We’ve been focused on gaining more control and that’s where a lot of our focus has gone in the lead up to the Chelsea game.

“Chelsea are one of the world’s biggest footballing institutions and have a very successful academy.

"They have invested a lot of quality and depth into their youth teams, but we’ve developed a mindset in our players which challenges them to take those kinds of players on and see how they compete against some of the best around for their age group.

“There’s no better way to do that than to go down there on Friday and show our quality.”

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