The players, fresh from their recent participation at the IMG Cup in Florida, are heading to Vietnam to take part in the Nutifood Cup – where they will come up against a host of Under-19 sides from across the world.
Flying out today, our youngsters will take on Japan Under-19s in the tournament opener on Monday, before locking horns with Italian side Roma on Wednesday. They will then face the Vietnamese Under-19 side next Friday.
Academy Manager John McDermott believes the trip provides another fantastic opportunity for the lads to further their development against quality overseas opposition.
“We’ve tried to find the right blend over Christmas of the players recharging their batteries as well as maintaining a good level of fitness to go straight into this tour,” John explained.
“We’re going as a replacement for another European side so everything’s been a little bit last minute, but we just thought it was too good an opportunity to turn down.
“We play against the Japanese and Vietnamese national sides as well as Roma so they’ll be three really tough games in heat and humidity. It’s a really invaluable lesson for our lads to go through.”
John confirmed that the majority of the players who went to Florida the week before Christmas will be involved again in Vietnam – although our participation in the tournament means our scheduled Barclays Under-18 Premier League games at home to Southampton this Saturday and away to West Bromwich Albion next weekend have had to be postponed.
“We’re not taking an identical group but it will be a similar group to that which went to Florida,” John added. “The trip just leaves us with a little bit of a fixture backlog in terms of the league but I think that’s a price we’re prepared to pay, given the calibre of games that have been made available to us.”