Liam Rosenior believes Derby County’s youngsters are providing plenty of encouraging signs for the future.
Academy products Lee Buchanan, Jason Knight, Louie Sibley and Morgan Whittaker have all been handed their first team bows by manager Phillip Cocu in the opening weeks of the 2019/20 campaign.
Buchanan and Knight have also started Derby’s last two Sky Bet Championship fixtures, against West Bromwich Albion and Brentford, and the quartet all received youth international call-ups at the end of August.
England’s Under-19s called up Buchanan, Sibley and Whittaker for the first time, for their games against Greece and Germany, while Knight also secured a second call-up to the Republic of Ireland Under-21 squad.
Fellow Academy graduates Mason Bennett, Max Bird and Max Lowe have also featured for the Rams in the opening weeks of the season, while wideman Jayden Mitchell-Lawson has also landed a call-up to the first-team squad after impressing for the Under-23s.
Rosenior, who joined Cocu’s backroom team in the position of Specialist First Team Coach in July, feels the youngsters are displaying positive signs for the future.
The 35-year-old has, however, stressed the importance of providing guidance to not just give Derby’s players the best opportunity to not just play well but win games of football too.
Derby are currently on their first international break of the season, after picking up six points from their opening six matches of the league campaign, and Rosenior admits the Rams would have liked more points from their opening batch of matches.
He told The Derby County Show on RamsTV: “I can see the process and the way of working. We’ve seen a lot of debuts for our young players coming through for players such as Jason Knight, Lee Buchanan, Morgan Whittaker and Louie Sibley already so far this season.
“They have all done really, really well since coming into the team in different moments in the two cup games and also in the league in Jason and Lee’s case too.
“It was disappointing to lose to a local rival in the Second Round of the Carabao Cup but, at the same time, as a coaching staff and as a club, we want to give our young players a chance. And that’s not just to be good for the next two weeks, but to have fantastic careers over the next few years.
“Playing in a local derby match at that age, for players like Louie at 17 and Morgan at 18, that will have been an unbelievable experience for them and is going to stand them in such good stead in the future.”
He added: “We have so many talented young players in the squad that we have brought in or have come up through our Academy and we need to guide them and give them the best opportunity to not just play well, but win games of football because that is what it’s all about.
“Obviously we’re disappointed not to have more points at this stage but we will keep working hard to make sure we pick up more points from the next block of games before the international break in October.”
Of all the aforementioned youngsters, Knight has featured the most in his breakthrough season.
The 18-year-old midfielder was an unused substitute for Derby’s Play-Off Semi-Final Second Leg triumph at Leeds United last season, as well as in the Play-Off Final defeat to Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium.
Under Cocu, Knight has already made six appearances and impressed with some lively displays.
Rosenior believes the Irishman is benefitting not only developing under the watchful eye of Cocu but also the Rams’ senior midfielders.
He said: “Jason has been outstanding in there, but I think he would be the first to say that the likes of Tom Huddlestone and George Evans, as midfield players with Championship experience, help him every day on the training ground.
“Just because you are a young player doesn’t mean you aren’t expected to go out and perform to win football matches for this club. That is what first-team football is all about, winning games.
“It is not about just playing young players; you are playing them to help you win the games of football. Not just them, but the likes of Kieran Dowell and Krystian Bielik too, it is so exciting for the future.”