- Leicester City Under-18s welcome West Ham United to LCFC Training Ground on Saturday
- This weekend’s Premier League U18 fixture has a 12pm BST kick-off
- City’s youngsters were held to a 2-2 draw against Arsenal last time out
- Amani Richards netted his 11th goal of the season versus the Gunners in Seagrave
Leicester were last in Premier League U18 action in Seagrave in midweek when they drew 2-2 with an Arsenal side who are currently two spaces below them.
Logan Briggs and in-form Amani Richards scored the City goals before Seb Ferdinand and Michal Rosiak pulled the Gunners back level with two goals in a matter of minutes in the second half, but overall, the coach was pleased with what he saw on the day.
“The first half of the Arsenal game, I thought the boys were outstanding,” Barradell explained to LCFC.com. “It was just how we wanted to play with and without the ball. In what was a very difficult game, with the windy conditions, we did well until the second half when we conceded a freak goal – a header from 25 yards.
“We then conceded a corner five minutes later which led to their second goal, but on another day, it’s given as a foul, however the boys recovered well after conceding twice. It’s always a difficult fixture against Arsenal but we’ll look at it as a point gained."
An upturn in performances has seen the Foxes win four of their last eight games, while, individually, Richards has impressed, taking his tally up to 11 for the season. Barradell believes the attention the young forward is receiving is well-deserved.
If we’re going to produce players that get into the first team, then these players need to learn to thrive in this environment.Adam Barradell LCFC.com
“Amani has scored a lot of goals with us and has been performing at a consistent level with the Under-18s,” the coach continued. “There are obviously boys in the wide areas that are scoring for the Under-21s, such as Tawanda Maswanhise against Manchester United, but Amani is patient and will keep improving daily.
“He’s a positive boy and is focused on the learning, and it’s his job to keep knocking on the door and look to push on throughout the remainder of the season.”
The next challenge for City’s youngsters will potentially be their hardest of the season, as they welcome West Ham, who have already been crowned champions, to Seagrave. But Barradell sees the match as a fantastic learning opportunity, against a side currently 14 points clear of the pack.
He added: “West Ham will be a good test for us. They’re in the FA Youth Cup Final so we hope they’ve got one eye on that, but we’ll be looking to recapture the performance that we produced in the first half against Arsenal and produce a real attacking threat on the game.
“We’ll focus on ourselves rather than West Ham. They’ve won the league so congratulations to them, but I thought we played well in the reverse fixture, despite being beaten 2-0. We performed well but we were just in a period where we were struggling to score goals, but we’re in a more confident position with that now.
“I’ve told the boys that they want to play against the best players and test yourself against the best teams in the league. If we’re going to produce players that get into the first team, then these players need to learn to thrive in this environment."
Highlights - Leicester City U21s 3 Manchester United U21s 2
Extended highlights from Seagrave as City's Development Squad picked up a late 3-2 win over Manchester United in Premier League 2 on Monday evening.
As always with development football, the coach was keen to talk about the progress made within the whole academy system, and not just the Under-18s' current selection. There are several young players who are engaging with the Development Squad more and more, including midfielder Bobby Amartey, who provided the assist to Brandon Cover's late winner against Manchester United in Premier League 2 action on Monday evening.
“We’re a young team, with plenty of Under-16s around the squad, so we’re always looking ahead to the next year,” Barradell stated. “These final five games of the season will provide a key learning opportunity for the players.
“I think the staff around the Under-16s and Under-21s are doing a brilliant job of helping to transition boys through the different age groups. You’ve seen how many have gone through the Under-18s to the Development Squad so there’s evidence of the great job that’s being done at the Club.
“Ultimately, that’s why we’re here as staff, to develop boys through the pathway, and give them opportunities to thrive, and to see them do that on Monday evening against Man Utd was very pleasing for us.”
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