YOUTH team manager Paul Bodin is in no doubt that Liverpool will provide his Swindon Town side with a tough test this evening in the third round of the FA Youth Cup.
The Reds ply their trade in the Barclays Under 18 Premier League - the highest-ranking division for youth football in this country - and boast a squad of hand-picked talent nurtured through a mutli-million pound infrastructure.
After ending a two-match losing streak with a 3-1 victory over Middlesbrough at the weekend, the Merseyside outfit go into the clash on a bit of a high, and Bodin is well aware he and his boys are in for a difficult 90 minutes at the County Ground.
“They’re a very good team. We’ve watched a lot of their recent games and they’ve been beaten in three of them - Chelsea, Fulham and Crystal Palace,” he said.
“That academy league that they’re in is far more challenging than the league we’re in. Chelsea are top, so to get beaten by them is no disgrace and I think Chelsea scored in the last minute, and Liverpool are a very good group of players.
“They’ve got lots of players to pick from. In the three games I’ve seen there’s probably been seven, eight or nine changes but there are one or two players who seem to play regularly and they’re key players for them.
“They play the same system as the first team, 4-2-3-1, and I’m sure they’ll set out the same against us.
“We can set up as much as we possibly can, we’ll pretty much know their key players, but at the same time they can change it and there are selection posers they could put out in front of us.”
In three months’ time first-team manager Paolo Di Canio will choose who in the Town youth team he wants to offer a professional deal to.
Bodin stressed that his players’ performances this evening will not dictate where contracts are awarded.
He said: “It can do but at the same time it’s a two-year programme. Some of them have been at the club since they were eight years old, some of them are late maturers and some of them are early maturers.
“If we think there’s more development in them then they’re the ones we push as well. It’s not just the lads who peak as a youth player because some lads can peak as a youth player and they’re not developing any further.
“Physically you look at them and you can see the ones who have finished in terms of physicality and there’s obviously the young, fresh-faced ones who can mature more physically.
“It’s an important game in their two-year programme, that’s for sure, and it will be a real test for them.
“Hopefully they can come out with flying colours.”