DAVE WRIGHT believes the week-long training camp in Northampton is the ideal way for the new faces in Stoke City's Academy to get to know one another ahead of the new season.
City's Academy Director is overseeing the pre-season preparations at the well-renowned Moulton College with both the Under-21 and Under-18 squads being based at the facility this week.
And whilst games at this stage of the year can often bring up one or two unpredictable scorelines, he is heartened by both age-groups' performances since their return for pre-season.
The Under-21s, overseen by new coach Glyn Hodges, recorded a 3-0 victory over Bedford Town's senior side last night with Elliot Wheeler, James Alabi and Derice Richards all on the scoresheet.
John Perkin's Under-18s team, meanwhile, drew 3-3 with their Northampton Town counterparts with Nathan Ricketts-Hopkinson bagging a brace and Charles-Anthony Weston-Hayles getting the other.
"Coming away for the week is perfect as it gives both Glyn and John the chance to get to know what they have at their disposal," Wright told stokecityfc.com.
"It's been a good week so far and it's been very hot down here. The idea is to get the fitness levels of the players up and for them to get minutes under their belts.
"Results aren't really important at this stage but we're being competitive and it's pleasing."
Wright has also shown his delight that Academy products are being given a chance to join up and impress in first team training sessions with manager Mark Hughes.
Both Alabi and Jordan Keane have been involved on a number of occasions so far, with the latter travelling out on the Club's USA Tour as part of the first team squad.
"It's been very encouraging to see the lads training with the first team," added Wright.
"Not only has it given them a huge lift knowing that they can get a chance to impress at that level, but it also acts as inspiration for the other boys who know that they may also get an opportunity if they work hard and perform well."
The standard of opposition now steps up with both squads facing their Watford equivalents tomorrow afternoon before tough games against the first teams of League Two Northampton Town (Under-21s) and Conference Premier side Tamworth (Under-18s).
* Fixtures for the Under-21s' upcoming season have now been released. The Potters start the restructured league with a game at Norwich City before hosting Arsenal. For a full fixture list, click HERE.