Graeme Shinnie says Derby County’s up-and-coming young guns deserve their opportunity to shine at first-team level.
The 2019/20 campaign has seen several youngsters step up from the club’s Academy and establish themselves in the first-team set-up under Phillip Cocu.
Jayden Bogle, Max Bird, Jason Knight, Louie Sibley, Max Lowe and Morgan Whittaker have all been in-around the squad for most of the season.
Lee Buchanan, Jordan Brown, Jamal Hector-Ingram and Jayden Mitchell-Lawson have also appeared for the Rams’ senior side during the campaign.
Bird, Knight and Sibley have shone during the second half of the Sky Bet Championship season and established themselves as first-team regulars.
Shinnie, who is 28, admits he feels like something of a veteran compared to the teenagers around him in the side - and he says the youngsters merit their spots in the squad.
“It tells me that I’m getting older but it’s great to see so many young boys coming through and it’s fully deserved,” Shinnie told RamsTV.
“They are here on merit and the obvious ones - Max Bird, Louie Sibley and Jason Knight - these boys have come through and are really making a name for themselves in the game.
“It’s so positive for the club. It’s great to be in amongst it, being a senior member and trying to help them as much we can and they help us as well.”
He added: “The blend has been really good for the team and these boys have done really well.”
The current season has seen six Academy players make their first-team debuts and as many as eight players from the club’s youth set-up featured in Wednesday’s fixture at West Bromwich Albion.