Fulham U21s Manager Kit Symons is challenging his young charges to use every moment of this evening’s match as a learning curve when they take on what is expected to be an experienced Wolverhampton Wanderers outfit.
Symons and his team boarded the coach to AFC Telford’s New Bucks Head Stadium without the sprinkling of senior faces who usually drop down from first-team duty to help maintain match sharpness.
Instead, the squad is packed with Academy graduates and scholars, who are hungry to prove how well they can handle themselves in the Barclays U21 Premier League.
And, although Symons expects the hosts to utilise the ‘three over-age players’ rule, he is backing the exuberance of our youth to deliver a competitive performance.
“It’s good if Wolves do have some of their first teamers out because it’s great experience for our young players to play against them,” Symons told Fulhamfc.com, ahead of the 7pm kick-off.
“We’ve had a really strong week’s training, which is good because we are taking a young team. Of late, Martin Jol has given us quite a few first teamers to play but we’re going with mainly under 20s and under 21 players today.
“We expect Wolves to use a lot of their first team players, which teams tend to do at home, so it’ll be a great test for our youngsters and one I’m looking forward to.”
“We’re looking for a good energetic performance. I’m looking for them to play with their hearts but play with their heads as well. To keep a good team shape and to learn from the experience.
“Wolves are a good side with good players when they only play their younger ones. They are a very competitive outfit so it should be a very good game.”
The West Midlands side are flying high in second place in Barclays U21 Premier League Group 3, and have already recorded a 2-1 victory against us at Motspur Park this season.
The young Whites fell two goals behind that day before Dino Islamovic’s strike gave us hope, but Symons believes his players have far more to offer in this evening's clash.
“Wolves were very good down here. We were disappointed with our performance and subsequently the result,” Symons admitted.
“It’s performances that are important at this level and that is what we were disappointed with so I’m expecting a better performance from our boys.
“The results and the table aren’t the important things – it is at first team level – but we’re very much focused on player development.
“The result is a by-product of doing the right thing so, as long as they work hard, I’ll be happy tonight.”