THE MENTAL strength of the Swindon Town youth team will be put under the microscope this evening, and manager Paul Bodin is unsure how they will respond.
Town face Liverpool in the third round of the FA Youth Cup - by far the biggest game in the academy’s season as the young Robins square up to some of the top teenage talent in the country.
Bodin has been in charge of the Swindon youngsters for long enough to know that only a select few progress from his ranks into the first-team squad each year.
He believes that the way they stand up to the test tonight will give a good indication of how close they are to being considered for a professional contract at the County Ground.
But, quite understandably with many of his side having never played in a game of such magnitude, Bodin does not know what to expect from his players.
He said: “It challenges their mental side as well as their physical and technical side.
“The mental side is a big part of the game. How do you challenge them without putting that pressure on them? How do they know if they can handle a big game situation?
“Playing at the training ground on a Saturday morning there’s 50 people watching and it’s a totally different scenario.
“Have they got the mental strength to deal with that? You’ll be able to tell. You can tell that there’s an excitement about the place. You can tell that when the group’s together they’re talking about the game but then there’s channelling all the right energy on the night into performing their tasks and their roles on the pitch.
“Some players perhaps won’t be able to quite deliver on the night for that particular reason, so it’s important that they go into that environment.
“That’s not to say that they’ll never be able to deal with it but at the same time it’s the biggest game of the season and can they deal with that pressure?”