Stanley Academy Manager John Townson believes his players have prepared superbly for tomorrow’s Youth Alliance game with Walsall – by taking on Manchester United.

The young Reds were invited to the Cliff to train with their United counterparts, which was an offer too good for Townson to refuse.

“Manchester United have drawn Bury in the FA Youth Cup and wanted a team to train alongside and we had a couple of training games,” he explained. “It was great to be invited by arguably the biggest club in the world.

“We played two training games of 20 to 25 minutes each and we didn’t get going in the first one and it wasn’t a good performance at all but we had some harsh words and the second game was 0-0 so we kept a clean sheet against some of the best attacking players in the country in our age group and had chances to nick it at the end.

“Not only was it a great opportunity for the lads to see Manchester United and the standard at that level, it was a great lesson in what happens when we don’t do what we’re capable of and then 20 minutes later what happens when we do what we are capable of.”

Earlier in the week a quartet of youth team players got a taste of first team action in a friendly at Bacup Borough which included many of John Coleman’s senior players.

“John Roberts and Dylan Smith, who are both first years, played the full 90 minutes as the centre half pairing. Kealan Steenson and Keenan Quansah played the whole of the second half in midfield.,” continued Townson. “They all did well in a 5-1 win in horrendous weather conditions. They dealt with it well.

“The gaffer’s taken a good interest in the youth side. Kealan’s already been on the bench for the FA Cup and he’s asking about the lads every time I see him. There will be more opportunities to come and with the way those four lads played and that’s done the rest of the lads a lot of favours for the next time a chance comes up.”

Now the focus is on Walsall, who visit Lancashire for a 12:30 kick off at QEGs tomorrow lunchtime, with Townson quietly confident.

“We couldn’t have wished for better preparation. Walsall are a big, strong and physical side who like to get on top of teams and bully them but we’re going to let them know they’re in a game and it’ll be us flying out of the traps tomorrow.”