Kit Symons is looking forward to seeing Fulham test their mettle against Wolverhampton Wanderers when the Whites play their first game of the inaugural Barclays Under-21 Development League on Bank Holiday Monday.
Having guided the Under-18s to two successive league titles and last season’s national Play-Off Final, the former Fulham defender is now overseeing the development of our new Under-21 squad in the competition created to provide young players with a more challenging environment.
“I really enjoyed my two years as Under-18 Manager,” said Symons. “Different challenges now await me, but it’s an exciting opportunity - and one I’m looking forward too.
“The Under-21 Development League is part of the changes made by the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), and it’s a concept I’m totally in agreement with. This will only help improve our players and the programme ahead will certainly challenge them.
“In the Under-21 group they really have to be thinking like First Team players. They’re so close, but do they have what it takes to make that final step? It’s an important stage for them, and while it may not be big differences in terms of the challenge, it’s the small nuances that play their part.”
Fulham are in Group Three alongside Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Manchester City, Middlesbrough and Wolves and Symons continued: “Those games take us up until the Christmas period. It depends on how we’ve done up until that point, but say we finish in the top three or four, we would then join the teams that finished in those positions in Group One and Two - so the second half of the season could be even more interesting.”
Wolves are first up in the behind-closed-doors fixture at Motspur Park on Monday, with Symons keen to see a good performance from his side.
“What I would stress is that it’s not really about results and league finishes at this level, because the main aim is the players’ individual development,” he said.
“I’m not looking to come in and particularly change things. I just want to keep that conveyor belt moving through to the First Team.”
Fulham Under-21s v Wolverhampton Wanderers Under-21s, Barclays Under-21 Development League Group Three, kick-off 2pm.