Southampton Under-23s assistant coach Radhi Jaïdi says the club has ambitions to win the Premier League Cup ahead of the competition’s opening game against Bristol City on Friday.
Saints won this tournament in its previous knockout style in 2015, but the introduction of a group stage at the start of the competition provides the team with an extra challenge this time around.
Like Premier League 2, it will be contested between Under-23 teams, with each side allowed three over-age outfield players and a goalkeeper born before 1 January 1993.
“It’s a really good adventure the Premier League Cup,” Jaïdi highlighted. “As everyone knows, this is a new version of it, but we have a good memory of this competition as we spoke about before. It’s a great opportunity for the boys to have a different competition and different targets.
“It’s good experience with more games for our academy boys and the 23s so we’re looking forward to it.”
As a Category 2 club Bristol City have not played Saints at this level in league competition, but Jaïdi expects a competitive opening game in the group.
“We’re not used to playing teams like Bristol City, but I’ve watched a little bit of them and they like to play out from the back and they have some good individuals,” he said.
“We’ll see more of them over the next day or so. We’re expecting a tough challenge and a good physical presence so it will be a good test for our boys again.
“It’s good to mix it up,” he added. “We know throughout the season we have three competitions now that we’re in, and, with different targets and different perspectives the boys will be challenged again and hopefully respond to that.
“It’s probably an opportunity for some of the younger boys and for us to confirm what we’ve been doing since the start of the season, which is all about opportunities, and hopefully the boys will take it and send a message to the first team staff.”
This fixture is the first of six matches to be played between now and February, with Swansea City and Newcastle United also in the group. Jaïdi holds high hopes for Saints.
“We want to go as far as possible and why not the final?” he said. “We’re ambitious in that respect.
“We’ll take it game by game. We have these six games to start with and we’ll see what happens, but it will be a good challenge for us and hopefully we’ll take it like we want.”