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Ricky Duncan on upcoming youth season

8 August 2013

Academy Manager looking forward to the season getting underway for his under-18 side

Ricky Duncan says his under-18’s go into their upcoming campaign in great shape after a promising pre-season programme.

Academy Manager Duncan was pleased to see his squad return in excellent shape which meant they could focus on tactics over fitness levels quite early on in their training schedule.

Ricky has watched his side put in a number of good performances against the likes of Norwich City and Millwall and he’s now looking forward to the opening game of their campaign against Stevenage at Boots & Laces on Saturday, kick-off 11am.

He said: “The lads returned in really good shape because they all stuck to their training programmes during the close season. That helped massively as we’ve had more time to work on tactics and shape ahead of the new season.

“We’ve put in some good performances and picked up some good results, we’ll be hoping for more of the same throughout the campaign.

“Obviously at youth level it’s about developing the players but we always want to try and finish in the top three and enjoy a good cup run – that’s what the players have said they want to achieve this year.

“I think there’s a real buzz among the squad because they can now see a clear pathway to the first team from watching the likes of Daniel Bentley and Jack Payne on Tuesday night against Yeovil.

“Obviously during pre-season Ted Smith and Jordan Williams got a little bit of involvement and Jason Williams and Josh Banton have done a few days training with them, so they are all raring for the season to get started now.”

Duncan has revealed Ted Smith will wear the captain’s armband for the under-18’s this season. He added: “Ted is an excellent leader, probably one of the best I’ve had since I’ve been at Southend.

“He’s reliable off the pitch just as he is on it and makes sure the lads are doing what they should be when the coaches aren’t around.

“Ted is a very good goalkeeper and seeing Daniel Bentley doing so well for the first-team will give him the confidence to play well for us and try and push on.”

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