WANDERERS Under-18s are back in action after their mid-season break tomorrow when they welcome Manchester United to Lostock.
It is the first match of the Elite Group phase for David Lee’s side after they qualified second behind Reading in National Group One in the first half of the campaign.
And while they face tougher tests against academy sides from teams like United and Chelsea in the second half of the campaign, coach Lee is relishing the challenge for his young stars.
He said: “The lads did really well before Christmas and lost just once which was a fantastic achievement when you consider we faced Premier League academy sides from the likes of Reading, Arsenal, West Ham and Everton.
“It is great experience for the players to test themselves against some of the best youngsters in the country.
“It is a step up and great for us as coaches as well to see how the players respond to the challenge.
“I’ve said many times before that you can learn more about young players in defeat so it is about how they perform and adapt as much as the scoreline.”
Lee he has a crop of fresh talent to progress after many of the squad who performed so well prior to Christmas graduated to the Under-21 ranks.
But he feels the progress of his young players through the ranks is an incentive to the next generation, particularly when they see players like Chris Lester named in the first-team squad like he was for the Sunderland FA Cup tie last weekend.
Lee added: “Many of the players have been promoted to the Under-21 development squad so we have younger players stepping up now. It is a great opportunity for these younger lads.”
The United clash kicks off at 11am tomorrow, then on Wednesday, Wanderers travel to Reading’s Madejski Stadium for an FA Youth Cup fourth round tie, kick off 7pm.