After their comeback victory over Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend, Norwich City Under-18s host Southampton at the Lotus Training Centre on Saturday (12pm KO).
The fixture was originally due to kick-off at 1pm but has been brought forward an hour for the midday start.
Going into the game, the U18s sit eighth in the U18 Premier League table, just two points Arsenal with a game in hand. After a long pursuit of the Gunners, a win this weekend could finally be the result to see the Canaries leapfrog to seventh-place.
Meanwhile, Southampton find themselves bottom of the table with seven points from 19 games this season. The Saints’ last fixture was another loss inflicted, being beaten 3-0 by Tottenham Hotspur. This weekend’s visitors also haven’t seen a win since early December, when they beat Coventry City U18s in the FA Youth Cup.
Three points for the Saints would be vital in getting them the strongest finish possible this season, carrying them to level points with Leicester City and six points behind Reading who have a game in hand.
The young Canaries will be in high spirits going into this weekend’s fixture after their spirited and dominant comeback against the Seagulls last week.
Brighton started the game strong, countering early on for Zak Emmerson to give the hosts the early lead, but the Canaries would push on to take all three points after a brace from Ken Aboh and stunning strike from Alex Matos.
The Canaries last faced Southampton earlier this season in the 2020-2021 campaign, City taking a 2-1 win courtesy of Abu Kamara’s brace.
The spirits are high ahead of this weekend’s game according to Under-18s right-back Ola Okeowo, who says him and other first-year scholars are relishing the opportunity to step up their performances for the side.
“I think we’re all in a good, positive mood. To beat a team as good as Brighton and now that a lot of the second years are going up and training with the Under-23s, for us first years it’s a big chance to step up and start performing consistently every week now. I feel like we’re all buzzing and ready to go.”
This game is a vital test for the Canaries to keep their cool according to Okeowo, the right-back saying that the team need to perform more consistently after big wins as the underdogs this season.
“I think its really important to stay consistent and not get complacent, for us as a team when we go against sides that a lot higher than us and we’re the underdog, we’re a lot better.
“When we go against teams we’re expected to win, we’ve struggled as a team. If we keep our heads and play like we did against Brighton, we should get the win.
“There’s only a few games left, us first years have to step up and get the points we need from the last few games that we have.”