DAVE Horseman admitted that “the biggest positive,” for Saints’ B team following defeat to Bournemouth is the age gap between them and their opposition, yet remaining competitive.

Despite suffering a 1-0 defeat versus Cherries in the Premier League Cup, Saints’ under-23 setup have been lining up week in, week out, with players who have just turned 16-years-old.

Kamari Doyle and Dom Ballard have both been called up to England under-17 groups and are regulars for Horseman’s B team, while 15-year-old Tyler Dibling made his debut last week in Premier League 2.

Competing at under-23 level for players that age, Horseman says, is the test “the best ones need to kick on”.

“Yeah really positive,” Horseman exclaimed, giving his assessment after the defeat.

“The biggest positive is the fact that we’re 16/17-years-old and every team were playing at the moment, I mean they’ve got players who have 30 SPL games, 21/22-year-olds and the number 10 is 20 and he’s up against a 16-year-old.

“I say it a lot and it is not an excuse, it’s just brilliant learning for us. It’s the challenge that the best ones need to kick on.

“That’s the biggest takeaway, the best bit is that our boys raise their levels. It’s working.”

He continued: “I think there will be some tricky afternoons and we wont win every game but the boys are stepping up to the challenge this year, they don’t shrink, the more we challenge them the more they get better.

“There’s Bournemouth boys out there cramping up because they cant cope with what we’re doing and I think that’s a credit to the younger players.”