Justin Walker claimed he couldn’t have been any prouder of his Derby County Under-18 side after their 5-0 battering of Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Moor Farm Training Centre.
Firstly, he commended the performance of his team and was pleased with the plethora of chances they created.
He said: “After a demanding and long week, that was a brilliant performance today. We showed a great mentality towards the game and a tremendous work ethic. I thoroughly enjoyed watching that performance today.
“Their goalkeeper made four world class saves today. The positives in that, though, are that we are getting and creating those opportunities. The team are getting more and more creative.”
In particular, he wanted to single out the performance of Jack Stretton. The striker grabbed two goals in the win and was the driving force between Derby’s relentless attack. The number nine has had to adapt to a new role this season, playing in a two-striker formation with Bartosz Cybulski.
On that positional change and recent performance, Walker could not have been more complimentary of his player.
He said: “I thought he was absolutely fantastic today. It was as good as I’ve ever seen him out there today. He looked exciting, quick and clinical which is about everything a manager can ask of his striker.
“In that two, the pair have been doing brilliantly together. We pose them with a different challenge in and out of possession whether it be to play deeper or play together right on the line, but they have adapted sensationally. But today in particular, I thought Jack was outstanding and a clear man of the match.”
Finally, Walker wanted to praise his players on how they have managed to deal with the demanding run of fixtures they have been forced to endure. Their inclusion in the Premier League Cup and UEFA Youth League has meant that the side will play three games in just a week, finishing with a trip to Aston Villa on Saturday.
The side hadn’t long arrived back in England after their successful European trip to Iceland on Wednesday.
“We make them tough here,” Walker joked. “They actually enjoy it. They all want to be playing in as many games as they can. Other than the Middlesbrough performance they’ve been exceptional in how they have applied and managed themselves.
“They continue to put in good performances and are getting the just rewards for it too with the results. The competitions have brought a healthy competitive atmosphere in the squad which is bringing the best out of them. They are pushing each other to get better every day.”