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Under 18s in Portugal: Day nine

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It's the final day in Portugal for the under-18s and time to reflect on a tough but ultimately rewarding nine days for the squad.

Yesterday’s defeat to Sporting might have been a blow on the surface but when coach Adam Sadler talks about there being one result on the scoreboard and another more important one, I think it’s matches like this one that he’s referring to.

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It’s never nice to lose and for the competitive group that we have in Portugal, there’s no doubt it will have hurt but coming up against players who are further along in their footballing developments can prove to be an invaluable experience even in defeat.

This squad is packed with players who play the game the right way, from the defenders right through to the forwards – playing out from the back, keeping the ball on the ground and trying to work the space.

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It was a real test of these ideals against a physically robust Sporting side but it was impressive to see the team stick to their principles right through to the 90th minute.

Like Adam says, you might not get your reward for it today but the lessons learned now will stand these players in good stead for the future when the results do really matter.

In the dressing room after the match, Sadler praised the players for their endeavour and for their exemplary behaviour that has been on display throughout the past nine days.

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The team spirit also shines through at the matches with the injured players taking their places in the stands to cheer on their teammates which they did with genuine enthusiasm.

On the coach on the way home from the match there was a lively atmosphere as Sadler took to the microphone, taking on the role as quiz master to deliver an impromptu football quiz which led to many a scratched head and furrowed brow.

I was impressed with the knowledge coming from the players behind me, despite many of them not being born at the time of the subject of many of the questions; they came up with the answers time and again - occasionally even beating the senior ex-pros Scott Sellars and Simon Davies to the punch.

Goalkeeper Angus Gunn was a particularly willing participant and produced a sublime moment of football geek-ery to answer that Nottingham Forest were the side to have won more European Cups than top division titles.

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The players arrive back in the UK this evening but there’ll be no let-up in the activity, as they are back in at Platt Lane in the morning for the season photoshoot before departing for Oberndorf for a four-day tournament in the evening.

We’ll let you know how the team get on in Germany in the Academy section of the site over the next week.

Over and out.

@MarkBooth85

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