Phillip Cocu was encouraged by the performances of youngsters Jason Knight and Morgan Whittaker in Derby County’s 1-1 draw against Sheffield Wednesday.

The Academy graduates were named in the starting XI as the spoils were shared in the Sky Bet Championship encounter under the Pride Park Stadium floodlights on Wednesday evening.

Knight made his first start since the end of August in the game and produced a lively display in the middle of the park, while forward Whittaker made his first-ever league start against the Owls.

The duo played 68 minutes before being replaced by Jack Marriott and Martyn Waghorn as Cocu threw caution to the wind as Derby chased an equaliser, which eventually came from Chris Martin late on.

Cocu felt the pair, who are two of four players to have come through the Rams’ Academy system, showed promising signs in their displays.

Speaking to RamsTV after the game, Cocu said: “I think they both did very well.

“With Jason Knight, we have a player with so much energy and who is also agile, good on the ball and puts pressure on the opponent.

“He makes runs in behind and I think he did well. He got a yellow card and made two more fouls, so I thought we needed to protect him to ensure he didn’t get sent off.

“With Morgan, he needed some time to get into the game and it was a difficult time to start for him.

“There was a lot of combination play and he is a player who needs to be fast on the ball. He found his way later on in the game and it was promising for them.”

Republic of Ireland Under-21 international midfielder Knight has made 11 appearances in all competitions this season, while England Under-19 forward Whittaker has appeared on seven occasions.