Richards applauds cup progress

22nd February 2019

Gary Richards has hailed Swansea City Under-23s after they qualified for the Premier League Cup knockout stages for a third consecutive year.

The young Swans booked their place in the next round with a game to spare following a 2-2 draw with Hull City in Group E.

Having lifted the trophy in 2017 and reached the final 12 months later, it is the third year running that the development side have successfully prevailed from the group phase.

And Richards insists his players should be very proud of their achievement.

“We’ve been pretty consistent in this cup over the years,” the under-23s coach said. “Obviously, it’s the third year in a row that we’ve reached the knockout stages and the players should be very pleased with themselves.

“We scored a good opening goal and created a number of good situations where we could’ve done a bit better. When you don’t take those chances, you run the risk of the opposition scoring, which Hull did and were able to get back into the game.

“However, qualifying for the next round was an objective of ours at the start of the competition and we’ve managed to do it with a game to spare, so that is very pleasing for us.”

The Swans fielded a youthful side at East Riding County FA featuring nine teenagers - including 16-year-old debutant Tivonge Rushesha and Mason Jones-Thomas, who made his first start at this level.

Despite the draw, Richards believes the youngsters have benefited from tonight’s experience and that they will provide further selection headaches for him and Cameron Toshack going into the final stretch of the season.

“We fielded a young team today and the game wasn’t the easiest so, although we didn’t get the result we wanted, the players will have learnt a lot from it,” he observed.

“Whenever the younger players make the step-up, we always keep a close eye on them. We were pleased to see that they performed very well.

“It gives us another selection headache and we’ve got a couple of players coming back from injury, so it will be nice to have a strong squad to pick from for our run-in. 

“The games are coming thick and fast, so we need everybody fit and available.”