Jon Grey is confident Swansea City Under-18s can enjoy a strong run in this season’s FA Youth Cup ahead of the third-round tie against Chesterfield at Landore on Friday (6pm).
The young Swans reached the fourth round of the competition last season after beating Wolves 2-1, but fell to a 3-1 defeat against Newcastle at St James’ Park.
Chesterfield clinched a 2-1 win over Port Vale in the second round of this year’s tournament last month to set up Friday's meeting with the Swans.
Although it promises to be a tricky contest, Grey feels it is an opportunity the young Swans must take in their stride.
“We’re all excited. It’s a fantastic competition and the biggest that the players can be involved in,” the coach said.
“It’s a huge game for everyone and we’re looking forward to the occasion. All the boys are confident that we can have a good run in this competition.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the players to experience a different kind of football. We normally kick off in the morning, so it’s going to be different into the evening and under the lights. Hopefully, they can embrace the occasion.
“Like most teams, Chesterfield have got some very good players. They are a very direct team and are a team our players don’t come across every week, so it’s a new challenge for them.”
The Swans come into tie off the back of a 3-0 defeat against Arsenal in Premier League South last weekend.
Having been in that game until the closing stages, the Swans conceded two quickfire goals late on.
Nevertheless, Grey insists that the performance against the Gunners featured plenty of positives.
“Similarly to the previous three or four games, Anthony Wright and I were happy with the way we’ve performed. We’ve been in games right up until the later stages, but a couple of quick goals have killed us,” he continued.
“We played well in the second half and created a number of opportunities which, going forward, we’re going to have to take in order to win more games.”
The under-18s have now won just once in six matches, but Grey has been very impressed by the side's development.
Following a strong start to the Premier League South season, they face Fulham next week in what will be their final match of 2017, and Grey is aiming to end the calendar year on a high.
“We're delighted with how we’ve performed, but disappointed with the results,” he added. “At this level, it’s all about development rather than results. The desire and commitment of the players has been top quality.
“We want our players to progress and eventually make the first team so, if that means we have to lose a few games in order to develop, then so be it.
“We’re pleased with how we’ve performed this year. We’ve got a good group of players, who continually work hard every day. I’m delighted with the progress that we’re making.
“We’d love to end the year with two wins and, hopefully, that will see us start an unbeaten run.”