Preston North End’s U18s will get the Club’s competitive action underway this weekend as they prepare for a thrilling encounter against neighbours Blackpool at Springfields, kick-off 11am
Head of Youth Graham Alexander, who has taken charge of his first pre-season, believes it is a good game for everybody involved to start off with.
Talking about tomorrow’s opener, Alexander said: “It is one of those times where you come back for pre-season training and you are excited about getting back into football after a nice break.
“I am talking as a player here as well as a coach because I remember the excitement of coming back in for pre-season training and the lads have worked really hard.
“Your eyes are always set on the first league game and the lads are raring to go, we have got Blackpool tomorrow at home so it is a good one to start with and hopefully the boys will do themselves justice.
“It is a good game for everybody connected with Preston, they are our biggest rivals and the lads are up for it.
“However they have got to take the rivalry out of it and play their normal game and if they do that they will do enough.”
Even though a strong believer of always having a winning mentality, Alexander knows result take a back step in youth team football and the most important thing are the performance levels.
“Youth team football is about performances and standards that we install into them and they have to install them themselves as young professionals,” continued the 40-year-old.
“That is what we are looking for, the quality in their play and how they handle themselves in game situations so we will see how it goes tomorrow.
“Pre-season fitness is only a base and it will be on-going throughout the year because they are growing lads so they need to be pushed and challenged physically as well as mentally to prepare them for professional ranks.
“They are still learning the game and even I am still learning the game. They are still at the early stages and learning about what their strengths and weaknesses are.
“Our target is to make sure everybody improves week in week out and hopefully at the end of it they will all achieve their goal.
“Results over pre-season went ok, I like the winning habit and the winning mentality more than anything.
“It is about getting them to improve as individuals, we can’t stress enough the team ethic and how important it is that you play into the team ethic and group.
“However as individuals they have to find their way and that is what we are trying to produce, strong individual professionals.”