Saints’ FA Youth Cup journey begins against Wolverhampton Wanderers tonight, with a continuation of recent league form a key target for coaching duo Craig Fleming and Danny Butterfield.
Southampton kicked off their cup campaign with a heartening 2-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford exactly one year ago, and the anticipation is building in the red and white camp as this season's curtain opener against Wolves nears.
The prospect of running out at St Mary’s will be an inspiring one for Saints' teenage cohort, but it will be a matter of business as usual for experienced coaches Fleming and Butterfield.
“There’s no doubt that there’s an extra bit of excitement for the lads,” said Fleming, previewing the game at Staplewood this week.
“That said, we’re approaching the game as if it were any other and looking to keep up what we’ve been doing in the league of late.
"Wolves are very strong and before the draw you would have tipped both sides to go deep into the competition.
“The boys are starting to grasp how things should be done here at Southampton,” added Butterfield. “We want to see the lads focus on their own jobs, not let the occasion get to them and above all, enjoy themselves.”
One young man who has familiarity with the heightened Youth Cup build up is Will Smallbone. The midfielder netted an eye-catching winner at Old Trafford in last year's third round tie, and is keen to inspire another strong start in this year's competition.
“We want to go further this year and I think with the quality we have in our squad, we have the potential to do that," the 17-year-old boldly stated.
“Everyone is looking forward to getting out at St Mary’s. Some of us played there last year but it’s always special playing at the stadium; we’re looking forward to putting our stamp on the night.”