The Under-21s coach has studied the Potters’ range of play ahead of Southampton’s Barclays Under-21 Premier League clash against them at Nantwich’s Weaver Stadium – kick-off at 2pm – and feels the youngsters are fully equipped to deal with whatever comes their way.
“We’ve got some DVD footage of them, so we’ve seen them play Manchester United and Bolton,” Hunter explained. “They’re effective, and now they’ve changed their manager, they’ve changed their style a bit. They’re a mixture of trying to play out and they’re also quite a direct and big team. We’ve been doing some work on that as our final bit before the game.
“They’ve got some very athletic, tall players – but they’re not as direct as they were before. They tend to mix it up. They play a couple of different systems of play that we’ve done some work on. It’s time to see if we can be consistent on the back of the West Brom game.
“The training has once again been good. We’ve had some players involved with the First Team – quite a few, actually – which is terrific. We’ve picked a team from the players that are available and we’ll see where that takes us tomorrow.
“I’m always confident – it’s up to the players now to be consistent. I keep repeating that word, but it’s so important.”
Hunter is delighted to welcome back Joe Curtis and to have Andy Robinson available for selection for the trip to Stoke, but concedes that Ryan Seager and Jason McCarthy will be out of action for the foreseeable future through injury.
Meanwhile, the coach was pleased to see regular U21 players Matt Targett and Jake Flannigan come through Tuesday night’s FA Youth Cup Third Round 7-0 win over Portsmouth unscathed, while they gained more experience and aided the younger ranks in the process.
“We’re disappointed for two of the players,” he continued. “Ryan Seager’s got an ankle injury, unfortunately. Jason McCarthy has got a shoulder injury, so they’re both unavailable. We wish them a speedy recovery. Joe Curtis is back in for selection, so that’s a positive.
“Robinson is looking strong. This is his third game [this season]. Hopefully he’ll play 90 minutes again. I’m delighted with his progress and long may it continue.
“It’s more experience [for Targett and Flannigan]. As Doddsy has said, there are young players now who have played at St Mary’s. They have had a good run in U21 games and it’s good for them to help the younger, less experienced players. I thought they did that well the other night.”