A TWO-WEEK fixture break will end for Swindon Town’s Under 18s this morning as they make the short trip east to face Northampton Town in Merit League One (11am).

Heavy rain forced the postponement of last weekend’s trip to Yeovil, but Town only dropped down to fifth in the division and are now three points shy of Northampton, division leaders, with a game in hand.

It makes this morning’s trip a crucial one for Farrell’s youngsters if they are to defy odds and keep themselves in the hunt for top spot.

Northampton topped the Youth Alliance south-east table in the first part of the season, dropping only 10 points from their 20 games.

But Farrell admits he cannot expect to face full strength teams at this time of year, largely due to off-pitch decisions regarding the futures of second-year scholars.

He said: “We’ve certainly improved, it will be a tough game and we’re looking forward to it.

“It’s been a typical week really, despite the postponement.

“We don’t really know what teams are going to do at this time of year. Teams will have second-year scholars that aren’t too sure where their future lies – and clubs make decisions at different times.

“It could be that a couple of 16-year-olds are thrown into the team, you can never really work out what standard players are going to have.

“That doesn’t bother me too much as I’m focussed on what we do as a team.

“As long as we play and prepare properly, we generally get the right performance.”

Jacob Bancroft’s absence from the U18s due to his first-team commitments hasn’t proved to be a huge problem.

That is mainly due to some of the club’s U16s players proving more than capable when stepping up to a higher level – most notably Harry Parsons.

Having capable back-up is a pleasing element for Farrell, who continues to warn his youngsters that they still face an uphill struggle if they are to make it as a professional.

“There is definitely potential in the under 16s teams,” said Farrell.

“They do have a long and hard road ahead of them, not many will make it.

“But there is definitely talent in there, players that have a chance.”