Richards: It's must-win
Gary Richards admits Swansea City Under-23s must take maximum points against Hertha Berlin on Thursday in order to keep their Premier League International Cup hopes alive.
The development side welcome the German outfit to Landore (7pm) for their second Group E game, with only the group winners and two best runners-up advancing to the knockout stages.
The young Swans are playing catch-up behind Villarreal, who have already registered seven points from their three games and have a favourable goal difference following a 7-0 rout of Liverpool.
Richards is aware the stakes are high on Thursday, but is confident in his players’ chances after they claimed a creditable 1-1 draw against the Spanish side in their opening match in September thanks to Adnan Maric's dramatic last-minute equaliser.
“It’s very straightforward for us,” the under-23s coach said. “We have to produce a good performance because we do need to win if we want to go through.
“Villarreal asked a lot of questions in our opening game, but we managed to come away with a great point and that sets us up nicely for Thursday.”
The under-23s come into the match three days after their 3-1 defeat by Blackburn Rovers in Premier League 2.
But Richards hopes his players can use the quick turnaround to their advantage as they aim to remain on course for another strong run in the Premier League International Cup, having reached the quarter-finals two years ago.
“It was a very disappointing performance against Blackburn,” he added. “But the good thing is that we don’t have too long to linger on it and can look forward to what should be a really good game with Hertha.
“The cup competitions provide a different learning opportunity for our players to look forward to and this is one that we’ve got lots out of over the years.
“As a result, we want to do everything we can to stay in this year.”