Darren Wassall was delighted with the performance of his young players after Derby County’s Under-23s kept a strong Everton side at bay in the Premier League International Cup.
With a behind-closed-doors friendly pencilled in for tomorrow afternoon against Oldham Athletic, Wassall’s side were without the likes of Luke Thomas and Max Lowe for the visit of David Unsworth’s Everton, with five youth team players ending the game for the Rams.
The Derby Academy Director was thrilled with the performance in the circumstances and he believes that tonight will stand those young players in good stead for the future.
He told RamsTV: “We ended up with five youth team players on the pitch at the end, we showed resilience, we dug in and we’re delighted with the clean sheet and a point.
“The whole point of the first team lads playing is that the young lads will gain the experience, but they have to cope and stand on their own two feet eventually.”
The Rams were beaten 1-0 when they faced the Toffees earlier in the season, and they had to withstand heavy pressure throughout from an attacking away side.
Wassall felt that there was a chance to grab a goal before the break, but he praised the way that the team stood firm when they were on the back foot in the second half.
He said: “If we were going to win it, the first half was our best opportunity, we started well without creating loads of chances and we kept the ball and had a lot of good possession.
“In the second half Everton cranked it up a little bit, there were a lot of older players out there with great physicality, and they made it difficult for us.”
The point puts the Under-23s in with a great chance of progressing to the knock-out stage of the competition, something that they didn’t manage last term, and Wassall highlighted the importance of qualification.
He added: “It was important that we didn’t lose tonight, we’re really looking forward to the Dinamo Zagreb game because we didn’t qualify last year.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to extend our season as well because beyond Christmas, because if you don’t qualify in the cups then you have a few weeks where you’re struggling for games.”