Rams youth primed for opportunities

Ian Saunders. Picture: Neil Marshall
Ian Saunders. Picture: Neil Marshall
Alfie Rutherford. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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Youth will be given a chance to flourish in the closing weeks of the season at Petersfield Town.

Manager Ian Saunders has already handed first-team debuts to Mike Needham, Jordan Geddes, Harry Giles and John Palfrey in recent weeks.

And more players from the ranks of the reserves and youth team are set to make their bows before the campaign is out.

The Rams entertain Northwood at Love Lane tonight (7.45pm).

And with four Southern League division one central games in the next seven days, Saunders has the perfect chance to run the rule over more of the club’s youngsters.

The Petersfield boss said: ‘We have a lot of matches coming up in a short period of time and we are now safely in mid-table.

‘We have some very talented young players in the reserves and youth team.

‘And we are at the stage of the season where I can now have a closer look at some of them in the first-team environment.

‘It is a great opportunity for me to see how they react to playing at a higher level of football.

‘Can they cope at this higher standard? What are they like around the dressing room and our regular players?

‘They will be out of their comfort zones in terms of what they are used to and I can see how they cope with that.

‘I can see if they are ready to make the step up yet to the first-team squad.’

Needham is one such player who has recently made the step up from Wyvern League football.

And the defender has impressed to the point where he now holds down a regular spot in the first-team squad.

Saunders added: ‘I have been very impressed with Mike’s progress.

‘He has stepped up and does not look out of place whatsoever. He has done really well for us.

‘If a few more of our younger players follow his lead and have the same impact, then we will be in a very good place in terms of where our emerging talents are in their development.’