GRAEME MURTY says the UEFA Youth League is the ultimate test for his players as they prepare for their first ever match in the competition.
The Gers Under-19’s side will take on Young Boys in Bern on Thursday afternoon in their round-one first-leg match.
Murty hopes the game will give his side the chance to show how far they have come since embarking on a European Games Programme.
He said: “It’s the culmination of a lot of years of hard work and we are really excited to test ourselves in the pinnacle of European competition for our age group so it is a fantastic reward for the players.
“A special mention has to be made of the Under-18 group last year led by David McCallum and Kevin Thomson that won their league which meant that we are getting the opportunity.
“We are getting in front of the camera when a lot of the recognition needs to go to those guys for the sterling work they did last year.
“We are looking to see all of their learning condensed into 90 minutes so the game actually is the ultimate test of their learning and of their knowledge.
“Alright it is a game and we want to win it but it is about how much they have learned, the journey that they have been on individually and collectively and what they can do to translate that into performance because that is what we are here for.”
Young Boys competed in last season’s Youth League competition beating Juventus and Valencia in group matches.
Murty added: “I am expecting quality from them and I am expecting a tough game but more than anything I am expecting a real challenge for our players to go and firstly deal with the expectation and deal with their own nerves and emotions, which there will be, and for them to go and actually work out how to hurt their opponent.
“We are trying to get them to a stage where we are almost observers of their quality, we will guide them and we will challenge them at times but it is mainly up to the players on the pitch to go and solve the problems.
“The way we have changed our programme and the way we have risked certain things is to go and make sure that the teaching of our young players and the quality of their opposition has led to this moment and we are hopeful that they can actually go and put that into practice and really go and enjoy it.
“I said to them however that they only really enjoy things if they do it properly. If they do their utmost then they will enjoy it, if not they will walk off having a little bit of regret and a little bit of a consideration of what they could have done differently but if they prep themselves properly then I’m sure they can go and do themselves justice.”
Murty says the spotlight will be on the club after choosing to leave the Reserve League and embark on a European Games Programme.
He said: “This is the test, we will only know this after the game but I am confident what we have done is the right thing. I am confident that we have actually made our players better and more rounded players for it.
“The whole reason behind it was to hopefully get this chance and this opportunity and now it is up to the players to grasp it with both hands and go and thrive in the moment because it has cost a lot in terms of monetary value but also in terms of questioning from out-with our department and out-with our club.
“People have been looking at us and the spotlight will be on us rightly so and it is up to us now to say you know what, what we did was right.
“We are hopeful that our young players can show everything that they have learned and condense that really well into a rounded performance because we have got some quality players, we have got good players who are more than capable of great moments and we hope that we get to see those great moments on the pitch.