SWINDON Town U18s manager Alan McLoughlin hopes to see his troops rise to the occasion when they go in search of a place in the second round of the FA Youth Cup on Saturday (1pm).

With Town’s senior squad not kicking off their own FA Cup ambitions until Sunday when they travel to National League South side Dartford, the U18s will have the rare chance to strut their stuff at the County Ground.

McLoughlin is sure that his troops have the measure of the Exiles if they play to their potential, although whether they achieve that is dependent on how they handle the pressure of a big match and big stadium situation.

“I truly believe that if we play to our maximum, we can win the game, but it is about what happens on the day and you don’t know how young players will react to the environment of being on the County Ground on a Saturday afternoon,” said McLoughlin.

“It is not their normal environment at Stanley Park or their training environment, so it is a little test for them but we are looking forward to it.

“What’s important for me is that it is a chance to look at the character of the players on the day – who can handle that different pressure, who can step up to the mark and play well when the chips are down.”

Town played Newport as recently as a fortnight ago, going down to a 4-1 defeat on the road in the Youth Alliance League, although Swindon were emphatic 5-1 winners in their first duel of the season back in August.

McLoughlin is therefore expecting another exciting spectacle to unfold on Saturday.

“Newport are very similar to us, they do their best with fairly limited resources,” said McLoughlin.

“I respect Newport immensely and what they do but I know that if we play to our maximum, we can cause them problems, although I also know that if they do what they can do well, they can cause us problems too.

“It will be a fascinating game and we are looking forward to the day. It’s always exciting for the players and the staff and we’d like to progress to the next round if we can.”

With the Town first team not in action until the following day, McLoughlin hopes those supporters hungry for their Saturday football fix head down to the County Ground to cheer on the club’s youngsters.

Ticket prices are charged at £3 for adults and £1 concessions, with doors opening at 11.30am through the Legends Lounge in the Arkells Stand.

“If you’re a Swindon Town fan twiddling your thumbs before Soccer Saturday, come down and watch your U18s play. They’d appreciate it, I’d appreciate it and the club would appreciate it,” said McLoughlin.

“You are not going to know what sort of talent we have at the club and what we try to do in the Academy if you don’t come along and watch and experience it.”