Time to get down to business for Norwich City's U23s against Aston Villa's U23s
Matt Gill is confident his raw development squad can hold their own in Premier League Two ahead of Monday's opener against Aston Villa (KO 7pm).
A number of Gill’s key performers from last season have headed out on loan, but that creates opportunities for the likes of exciting front pair Adam Idah and Anthony Spyrou to impress.
Spyrou’s brace sealed a final pre-season win at Dereham last week, and Gill is looking forward to a testing match-up against Villa at Walsall’s Banks’ stadium.
“I have some good memories from playing there at the Bescot,” said Gill.
“It feels like a long pre-season and at times we have had quite small numbers. I am really pleased to get through six or seven weeks of training and gained that robustness we will need.
“The two up top are still learning their trade, they love scoring goals, they are good pals off the pitch and becoming a good partnership on it but it is important they keep working hard. There is a lot they need to learn, but they know that and they are willing to learn.
“That applies to the whole group and you can see that togetherness. They are inquisitive, they want to ask questions and you want that as a coach. You wouldn’t want a silent group.
“Savvas (Mourgos), Adam (Phillips), Tristan (Abrahams), DJ (Diallang Jaiyesimi) and Mason Bloomfield are now out on loan.
“They need to experience a different level. The ones who had success last year at our level have gone out, while someone like Max (Aarons) missed that step and has gone straight into the first team mix. It shows the others the pathways are there.”
Gill felt a final 3-2 friendly win at Dereham marked another step on the learning curve.
“To finish pre-season on a positive note means we can now take that into the season,” he said.
“To play teams like Dereham is brilliant for our lads. That is something I can’t give them, which is the experience of playing men’s football. The boys would have learned loads from a game like that. All credit to them they stuck at it and showed some resilience.
“We are youngish team learning every day and the best thing is they are desperate to get better.”