Manchester Development travel to Sunderland this Sunday (3rd March) looking to continue their good run of form and potentially make top spot in Division Two North their own.
Ahead of the fixture, we caught up with Assistant Head Coach Steven Jackson, who takes charge of the team in the absence of Russell Fryer.
Last time out, the Development side produced an impressive 8-4 victory over Liverpool in the North West derby. Having got off to a slow start, Steven says there are still things to improve on - despite such a convincing result. "Last time v Liverpool was a good result in the end but the focus will always be on our development as a team. We started slowly in the game and that’s something we will look to address on Sunday."
The win took the Development side joint top of Division Two North on 15 points - sharing the top spot with Bolton. Russell and Steven have always said development is always the priority, but that hasn't stopped the players taking interest in the table.
"The league table is something the players like to look at but myself and Russell always have the longer term view in focus. Our job is to progress this group of players into the first team and that isn’t measured by the table, it’s measured by how capable they are when they get their chance in Sergi’s squad. There has been noticeable improvement this season and the credit for that has to go to the players themselves."
The sides last faced each other in the first game of the season, with the score finishing 5-3 to Manchester. Steven says Sunderland are a club he knows a lot about - meaning it's a fixture he's looking forward to. "Sunderland are a club we admire greatly and we are looking forward to seeing Wayne and Andy again. The work they have done in the North East is a credit to them both and they have worked tirelessly to create a buzz in Sunderland about futsal. We really enjoy our battles with Sunderland and I’m sure Sunday will be no different."
Finally, Steven gave us a update on the squad going into the fixture. "We travel with almost a full squad, although we will be missing Matty and Scott. The team is in good spirits and I know they are looking forward to the game. It’s a real pleasure being involved with this squad and our aim on Sunday is the same as any other - focus on the areas we can improve on both individually and as a team."