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Under-18s v Cardiff (A) | Preview

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After their first setback of the 2023/24 season last week, Jamie Lowry's Under-18s have a tough test ahead of them this weekend as they travel to Cardiff City. 

The fixture is the second in this season Professional Development Cup, which is played to begin with in a group-stage format. Argyle won their opening game in the group, beating Bournemouth 4-1, while Cardiff lost 4-2 to rivals Swansea City. 

Cardiff are a Category 2 academy, compared to Argyle's status as Category 2, but Lowry welcomes this challenge against theoretically tougher opposition. 

"We’re still preparing the same way, exactly like we would do for a normal league game," Lowry said. 

"The level of ability of the opponents is probably a bit stronger. It's not something we do week in, week out, playing Category 2 teams, so it's going to be a good test for the lads.

"We want to test ourselves against the best teams, whether that's in our own level, like Category 3 or above in Category 2. There's a chance the boys will go and show how good they are, and as a club, where we're trying to get to.

"We had a fantastic result in the first game against Bournemouth, so we hope to build on that and then hopefully go further in the competition, if things go well Saturday and then against Swansea in our final game.

The Young Pilgrims' seven-game winning start to the campaign ended with a narrow 2-1 defeat at Newport County, and it is back in South Wales, just a little to the west of last Saturday's venue, where they will look to bounce back. 

Argyle will once again be able to call upon Freddie Issaka, following his week in Montenegro with Wales Under-19s, and Jack Matthews, who was suspended for the trip to Newport. 

Discussing the rare loss, Lowry said: "We got together on Monday morning, first thing, and went through the game: what went well, what didn't go so well. We’ve put it behind us now and we're going to build to the game against Cardiff on Saturday. The boys have had a really strong week and I think are really looking forward to righting the wrongs from the weekend.

"Freddie was away on international duty, so it'll be nice to have him back in and around the building again. Jack Matthews is back from suspension and we've got a couple of lads returning from injury as well. Squad wise, we'll be stronger and more competitive.

"It's all about that reaction; doing the right thing and not sulking. I’ve been really impressed with them. The boys have responded really well; it might have made them even hungrier than I've seen them before, to be honest."

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