Phillip Cocu was pleased to see two more members of his Derby County squad make big strides towards returning to the first-team fold on Friday.
Midfielder Krystian Bielik and winger Jordon Ibe got match minutes under their belts for Derby’s Under-23s in their 3-1 win over Southampton in Premier League 2 – Division 1.
Bielik played for just over an hour against the Saints, while Ibe registered 45 minutes and scored a fine goal after just two minutes.
Polish international Bielik was making his first appearance since sustaining a long-term knee injury in January of this year.
Cocu was pleased to see the 22-year-old back on the pitch once again but says the Rams must give him time to get up to full speed.
“It was great that Krystian played around 60 minutes and when he came off, he was really happy,” Cocu told RamsTV.
“That is good and really positive. He has a lot of quality and potential to give to the team.
“He has been out for a long time, so we also have to give him some time to pick up his rhythm of play.”
Winger Ibe, who joined Derby from AFC Bournemouth last month, also used the game to step up his sharpness after a year without a competitive fixture.
The 24-year-old will provide another option for Cocu out wide in the coming weeks and the Derby boss is happy with his progress.
“It was also positive for Jordon to get some minutes,” Cocu said.
“He played 45 minutes and we saw the sparks and the quality he has, as well as a fantastic goal. It was good that he played because he needs real game minutes.
“Maybe he needs one more game to try to push towards an hour or more, but he is getting closer to being involved in the first-team as well.”