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Mowbray: I'll play the youngsters

The manager says Tuesday's match at Rochdale could be an opportunity for some of the club's Under-23 stars

6 November 2017

CameraSport

Tony Mowbray says Tuesday's Checkatrade Trophy match against Rochdale represents a good opportunity to give game time to some of Rovers' younger players.

The Blues make the short journey to the Crown Oil Arena looking to build on Saturday's FA Cup first-round win over Barnet at Ewood Park.

Speaking ahead of the game, Mowbray says he'll use some Under-23 players during the game, and believes the experience will benefit the youngsters.

“Do we want to win? Of course we do. We want to win every game we play in," the manager said.

“Tuesday's game is a really good opportunity to give a chance to the lads who I think are really pushing on from the Under-23s, and we'll use some of them.

“It’s a chance to give them some experience of being in the dressing room with the first-team where they’re expected to go and perform. 

“If we win we go through to the next stage; if we don’t, we’ll put it behind us and take the positive experience for the younger players and move on to the next game.

“I think all young players have to understand the expectation of playing in front of a crowd, the expectation of the aftermath of a game that is reported on.

“If you’re a player who’s done well, it’s how do you deal with the positivity in the papers. If you don’t, how do you deal with the negativity of a poor performance?

“It’s the experience of being a professional footballer really, how they deal with a different voice in their ear.

“It’s part of the learning process and part of growing up as a footballer.

“Perform on the pitch, that's the message for the younger players really. Be the best player on the day, leave any egos at the door and get on with the game.

“I watch the Under-23s as often as I can and know we have some good players in there. They’re a good bunch who drive each other on.

“They’re not all going to play in the first-team at Rovers but some of them have a good chance.

“They have to step into the light really and become their own individual to become a first-team player if they can."

Mowbray included young midfielder Rekeem Harper in Saturday's starting line-up, and has challenged him to perform both in training and on matchday. 

“Hopefully this will be an opportunity for Rekeem," the boss added. "He had an opportunity against Bury and didn’t perform.

“He’s only 17, he’s not 20, he’s a boy really. He has immense talent and we see that in training every day.

“But he has to bring that to the pitch in a game, rather than just in training.

“It’s the same with players like Ben Gladwin, who does amazing things in training - when they have an opportunity they have to try to grasp it.

“Rekeem has trained hard every day, he stays back and puts in extra time on the grass.

“That’s a message I drum home loud and clear, if they get asked to play they have to be ready and I’ll judge them on the 90 minutes I see.

“That’s the way it is. This club has to win games.”

 


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