SHOLING boss Dave Diaper has always managed with the mantra that “if they’re good enough, they’re old enough.”

So it comes as no surprise that at least four members of the Boatmen’s under-18s, bound for Leyton Orient tomorrow evening (Wednesday, 7.30) in the FA Youth Cup second round, have already been in and around the first-team squad.

Defender Owen Royl is approaching 30 appearances for Sholing’s senior side already this season, while full-back Jean-Luc Ramdin was an England Schools’ under-18s regular last season and captains the Hampshire Colleges team.

The likes of Frazer McLean and Harry Butler have also had a flavour of first-team football and there will be plenty more to follow with Diaper determined to give youth its chance.

“Several of the young lads have been given first-team experience which backs up what I’ve been saying for a few years now. If they’re good enough, we’ll reward these boys with run-outs in the league,” said the boss.

“If it means we suffer league-wise this season, so be it. It’s all about the development of Sholing FC.

Sholing are running two coaches to Orient’s Matchroom Stadium for what will be an historic night for the Portsmouth Road club.

Following wins over Wimborne Town, Team Solent, Aldershot Town and Clevedon Town, this is first time the young Boatmen have ever made the second round proper.

“It’s a great occasion for the club and for everyone involved,” said Diaper.

“It’s a big ask to beat Orient, but the Sholing spirit is quite unique.

“I’ve watched the last three FA Youth Cup games and the lads have had a never-say-die attitude.

“They know they’re up against it, but Orient will know they’ve been in a game against our guys, that’s for sure!”

Orient’s under-18s are managed by Danny Webb, son of former Saints and Chelsea defender Dave, who had a spell at Southampton as a youngster. He has also played for Havant & Waterlooville and Salisbury City locally.

The winners of tomorrow's tie will be away to West Bromwich Albion in round three.

"A trip to the Hawthorns is a great carrot, but one step at a time.

"We will focus on our trip to Brisbane Road first," said Sholing's head of development Steve Ross.

"Can the young Boatmen make history again? Anything is possible if you believe!"

Entry at Brisbane Road is £5 adults, £3 concessions and free for under-16s.