Scott Sellars believes Wolves’ Next Generation will have learned a great deal from their 3-1 defeat at the hands of Derby County as they look to continue their Molineux development.
Samuel Ricketts wanted to get 90 minutes under his belt as an overage player as the Under-21s took on the Rams at Compton yesterday but, that apart, it was a fairly youthful side even for that level.
Connor Hunte and trialist Jordan Graham, so influential in the previous week’s Birmingham Senior Cup win at Stratford, were also absent through injury meaning Sellars always knew it would be a tough test against a Derby side boasting three experienced senior players in Jake Buxton, Paul Coutts and Simon Dawkins.
But he says it proved a good learning experience, Ibrahim Keita’s late goal proving a consolation after Dawkins (2) and Alban Bunjaku had put the Rams in control. (Click here to view match report)
“Once we saw their team and the standard of players they were bringing we knew it was going to be tough,” said Sellars.
“We’d got a couple of injuries ourselves and had to play people in different positions which is always a bit of a gamble but injuries are part of football and you have to get on with it.
“They started the game well but we had one or two moments until the first goal which affected us a bit too much.
“With the ball we were decent without causing them too many problems but without the ball we didn’t quite work hard enough to stop them.
“And when it became 3-0 I thought one or two of the lads got a bit despondent.
“I said to them that football is tough at times and you have got to keep going and we got a goal through some perseverance at the end.
“But looking at it we probably got more out of the game than they did and they won 3-1, because it’s great development and a great challenge for the players.
“At Under-21 level sometimes you are playing against players your own age and sometimes you are not, and what’s important is how you deal with things when they are going well or when they are not.”
As part of Wolves’ overall strategy many of the Under-21 squad have been sent out on loan already this season, most recently Eusebio Bancessi, to Cheltenham Town.
Those departures have offered the opportunity for younger players to step up, with Mekhi Leacock-McLeod, 17, and substitute Connor Ronan, 16, showing some promising touches in yesterday’s game.
“Connor is 16 and came on and didn’t look out of place at all, while it was Mekhi’s first game at this level and he showed some really good moments.
“Results are important and the players understand about needing to win but from a development point of view these matches are really good for them.
“Over the last few weeks some of the younger lads have played against QPR and Liverpool teams full of experienced players and some world stars never mind Premier League stars.
“It’s a really good challenge and good for the lads to say ‘well o-k how far away are we’?
“At 18 or 19 it is expected that there is still a distance to go but they need to try and get there as fast as they can.
“The challenge they have is (a), can I get in the first team, but then when the first team is doing really well it is (b) can I do well enough that a club can come and take me on loan?
“That’s what’s happened with players like Liam (McAlinden), Kortney (Hause) and Eusebio.
“Who can be the next one to get out on loan and get that experience to get closer to the first team?
“That’s the way we are as a football club, we want to develop players as quickly as we can.
“We’d like to think here they get a really good development pathway - playing in the Under 21s , sometimes playing alongside first team players, getting a loan and then trying to get into our first team.”
Click below to hear the full interview from Scott Sellars.