Derby County Under-18s manager Justin Walker was left delighted by how his side started the game as they beat Aston Villa 4-2.

A sixth consecutive victory in all competitions for the Rams secured a place in the quarter-finals of the Premier League Cup, after winning all three of their Group C matches against Villa, Brighton and Hove Albion and Sunderland.

Tyree Wilson and Morgan Whittaker both netted braces for Derby, with three of their combined four goals coming inside of the opening 20 minutes.

It was a start the left manager Walker pleased, and he told the it was some of the best football that his side have played all season. The win capped off a fantastic week for his side, who beat Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League – North and Blackpool in the FA Youth Cup.

He said: “Fantastic result, we played really, really well for the first 25 minutes, as well as we have played all season actually and we went 3-0 up.

“It’s been a really challenging week and one that the lads have stood up to really well.

“Three games, three wins and we are in all of the competitions, so everyone can be delighted with their work this week and their contribution.”

For the majority of this season, Walker’s side have utilised a formation which includes a three-man defence, but against Villa, he switched to a 4-3-3 set-up.

Despite the change in formation, the recent run of good form did not come to an end and it was an intentional challenge that he felt his players stood up to well.

“We just threw a different challenge on the lads today, different personnel and see how they adapt to that” explained Walker. “We want to make it as tough as possible for the lads, keep their focus and again, they have answered that.

“It’s more important that we see the development and progress of the players and we are seeing that. There is a confidence amongst the group and there is a hunger and no matter which team we put out, we have got players that are standing up and showing us why they are at the club.

“The standards they are setting themselves, to this point, have been very pleasing.”

It was Walker’s final competitive match of 2018, with his side next in action on Saturday 12th January at the Training Centre in Partnership with the University of Derby against Manchester United.

He is hoping that his players can enjoy some down time over the winter break but insists that standards must not drop when they return.

Walker added: “There is some down time for the lads after a tough six months, and they can be proud of their work.

“They have got to sustain that when they come back.”

Words by Jonty Colman