James Collins is expecting a tough run of fixtures for his under-23 squad as they maintained their 100 per cent start to their Premier League Cup campaign with a comfortable win over Swansea City.
The development side have experienced an up and down start to the season so far but having put together a pair of wins from their last two fixtures Collins hopes it will be the start of a more consistent period for the team. However, with four matches coming up in the next two weeks, the head coach understands that variations in performances are to be expected in under-23 football as players turn from boys into men.
On three wins from three in the PL Cup
“I thought we thoroughly deserved it. They started quite well and we had to defend early on in the game, the first 10/15 minutes, which is something you’d expect coming all the way down here.
“We knew they play their system and they played it the way they did, but it’s just about whether we could hold them off, which I thought we did before we settled, and then we grew into the game, got the goal we deserved, and from there on, I wasn’t overly concerned.
“The second goal helps, but then the last 10 or 15 minutes, I felt they got a little bit on top because they were having a go, we tried to change the shape a little bit to see if we can defend the box, and we did it reasonably well.
“A clean sheet is always a bonus in Joe’s [O’Shaughnessy] first game in goal, and it was a relatively comfortable afternoon.”
On bringing young players into the team
“We’re trying to introduce the younger players all the time. Justin [Hubner] had a stop-start beginning to the season, which is probably why he hasn’t come in a little bit earlier, and he also had a recent trip back to Holland where he played three times internationally.
“He had a really good game for the under-18s last week, so we felt he was ready now, and he came in and did fine. He looked like he’d been playing there all season.
“Joe started, Tinks [Tyler Roberts] came on at the end, so it’s good. We need to introduce the younger players all the time, that’s the point of it. Refresh the team with younger players and challenge them and see if they can play at this level, to move onto the next level.”
On putting a run of wins together
“We’ve been a little bit up and down at times this season, but I looked at last season and we got 36 points from 24 games and had a good season.
“At the moment, we’ve got 18 from 12, so exactly half-way to where we were last year, we’re three from three in the Premier League Cup, had a good result at Wigan in the Papa John’s and were one-up for 70 minutes at Shrewsbury.
“A poor performance at Crewe probably made us feel like we’ve not done as well as we might have, but we’re tyring to get them from childhood to adulthood, and part of that is inconsistency.
“I’m sure they’ll go back to being inconsistent at time, but it’s nice to put a few wins together because we’ve got a tough week ahead, with Norwich and Fulham, who are flying up at the top of the league, plus the FA Youth Cup after that for a lot of our players who are eligible.
“Four games in 13 days is a real challenge, so we’re going to have to juggle the team around a little bit.”