Richards: We must rise to the challenge

2nd February 2018
Under-21s

Gary Richards wants Swansea City Under-23s to rise to the challenge when they face Manchester City at their Academy Stadium in Premier League 2 tonight (7pm).

Monday’s commanding 3-0 win over West Ham extended an impressive unbeaten league run to six games, with the Swans up to fifth in Division One.

And while Richards accepts Manchester City will bring another tough test for the young Swans tonight, the under-23 coach does not want to see performance levels drop.

“Tonight is another big game for us,” he said. “We value games like this and must look to rise to the challenge.

“They are one of the strongest academies in the league, so we must look to be at our best.”

Two goals from England Under-17 World Cup winner Phil Foden helped Manchester City to a 3-1 win when the sides met at Landore in September, with Oli McBurnie on target for the home side that night.

Richards admits the defeat was disappointing but believes the Swans have grown as a side since then.

“Manchester City punished us during that game,” he said. “We lost 3-1, but I felt the game was a little bit closer than the scoreline suggested.

“But that result showed us just how clinical teams can be in this league.

“I think our game management is improving, which is pleasing to see because it is an important aspect at a senior level.

“Our unbeaten league run shows that we are learning at this level and that players are adapting.

“We have had some very good performances recently which have earned us wins against Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, so we should not fear anyone. But we need to maintain our performance level and not approach tonight’s game with any complacency.”

Five development players went out on loan before this week’s transfer window closed, including under-23s captain Joe Rodon and striker McBurnie, who netted 13 times for the under-23s this season.

Richards insists the moves will bring fresh opportunities for younger players.

“The loans for all those players have come at the perfect time,” he added.

“All have performed well this season and their attitudes have been spot on with the under-23s.

“They have all taken on some exciting moves within the Scottish Championship, EFL and Welsh Premier League and we hope they all do well and get some good first-team experience to help improve them as players.”

Swansea City Under-23s face Manchester City at the Academy Stadium at 7pm tonight. The game will be streamed live on www.swanseacity.com and with updates on Twitter @swansofficial.