Cameron Toshack is excited to see Swansea City Under-23s demonstrate their capabilities on a big stage when they lock horns with Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium this evening (7pm).
This is the first of the development side’s three remaining games in Premier League 2 – all of which are to be played at stadiums.
They face Tottenham Hotspur at the Liberty Stadium on April 15 before finishing against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium 11 days later.
This evening, the young Swans travel to the South Coast for what is a crucial showdown, in which they must avoid defeat to have any chance of keeping their survival hopes alive.
Nevertheless, despite the scenario, Toshack has encouraged his players to stand up and be counted on the big stage.
“We’re focused on producing a positive performance,” the under-23s coach said.
“The boys have been very fortunate with the way the fixtures have fallen as we go into our last few games of the season playing on top pitches and in an elite environment. It’s an important step in the players’ development.
“Our players couldn’t ask for any more in terms of opportunities to showcase their ability and play in these environments.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing how capable they are.”
The Swans, who are seven points from safety with three games remaining, are sure to be in for a tough match against second-placed Brighton.
However, they do go into the contest off the back of consecutive victories in the Premier League Cup against Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest, which saw them progress to the semi-finals of the competition.
The Swans had to demonstrate both sides of their game to remain on course for a third consecutive appearance in the final – something Toshack was very pleased to see.
“They’ve played two very different games,” he observed. “We played like a Swansea City team from start to finish against Aston Villa, which was really pleasing to see.
“The Nottingham Forest game was different because we were up against a significantly more experienced side featuring two full internationals. We had to roll our sleeves up and show a different side of our character.
“But, in a cup tie, the objective is to get through to the next round and it was great to see our desire and commitment that got us over the line.”
The Swans travel to Brighton without the services of Oli Cooper, who was ruled out for the remainder of the season with an ankle ligament injury sustained in the shootout win over Forest.
Toshack and Gary Richards have integrated several under-18s players into the fold in recent weeks, including the likes of Tivonge Rushesha, Mason Jones-Thomas and Daniel Williams.
And, while wishing Cooper a speedy recovery, he admits it has opened the door for more youngsters to step-up to the plate.
“Oli’s injury gives us the opportunity to have a look at some of the younger players that are coming into our fold next season,” added Toshack.
“People have to be patient with these youngsters because it is a big step-up for 16 or 17-year-olds to come into this environment.
“However, it’s a great learning experience and will make them better – both as people and players.
“The next step is for them to deliver performances for the under-23s. Then, when they step-up to the first team in late life, they’ve already had plenty of experience of different challenges.”
You can see the young Swans in Premier League 2 action LIVE on swanseacity.com from 7pm this evening.