Southampton Under-21s will look to extend their unbeaten run in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League when they welcome Sunderland on Monday night (kick-off: 7pm BST).
Martin Hunter’s side sit top of the table thanks to three wins and two draws in their opening five games, while Sunderland are third with ten points from their opening five fixtures this season.
After Reading’s 3-3 draw with Chelsea on Friday night, Saints maintained top spot thanks to a superior goal difference – helped by their 5-2 win against the Royals a week ago.
One man who impressed in that fixture was Josh Sims, making his first start of the campaign, and he hopes he’s done enough to maintain his spot for Monday night’s game at the Staplewood Campus.
“I was delighted to start,” Sims told youtube.com/southamptonfc. “I had to wait for my chance because Sam McQueen and Lloyd Isgrove were playing well and it’s just a matter of taking it.
“I was happy with the performance and so were the coaches. Even if I don’t start this game I’ll take my chance when and if I come on. But I have to try and take that chance whenever I get it.
“It’s always good when you have competition. It makes you fight more for your place and not get lazy.”
On Sunderland, who beat Manchester City 3-0 in their last league outing, Sims believes the young Black Cats will provide a different test to the one posed by Reading a week ago.
“It doesn’t get any easier, Sunderland are a good team. We will do our work on them and hopefully we’ll get another win,” Sims added. “It will be a different test, Reading were very direct, but I think Sunderland will play more football.”
Coach Radhi Jaïdi believes his side will be able to handle the pressure of another top-of-the-table clash when they welcome the Black Cats on Monday evening.
“Last week the game itself was on TV and that was the motivation for the players. We didn’t make a lot of motivational talks, they were motivated themselves,” Jaïdi said.
“Being a top of the table game will probably highlight the game a little more, but we will try to take off the pressure. It’s part of their development to handle that pressure.
“We’ll focus on the good things we’ve been doing and look to develop on the areas we think we can improve.
"It’s going to be a great test, a big test for the boys. We’re up against a team who are third in the table so it’s a big game,” Jaïdi continued.
“They will try to play out from the back and they have some experienced players, so I’m expecting a really good test upfront and for the back four. We will prepare for that and hopefully get the result we want.”
The game against Sunderland kicks off at 7pm BST and will be shown live on Southampton’s official YouTube channel.