Academy graduate Eiran Cashin is confident that he will benefit from the experiences he has gained over the 2020/21 season at Derby County.
The 19-year-old centre-back concluded the campaign with Wayne Rooney’s first-team squad and was an unused substitute on a handful of occasions.
Injuries stretched Derby’s backline in the final weeks of the season and Cashin made the step-up from the Under-23s to provide cover on the bench.
The Republic of Ireland youth international, who was part of the Rams’ 2018/19 Under-18 Premier League title-winning side, believes being around the first team provided a whole new learning curve to continue his development.
Derby avoided relegation from the Sky Bet Championship on the final day of the season with a 3-3 draw against Sheffield Wednesday, with Cashin once again on the bench, and the youngster was keen to make the most of the step-up.
“The last four weeks of the season and the experience that I gained during that time will help me massively,” Cashin told RamsTV’s latest episode of the Academy Review Show.
“Hopefully we, as a club, won’t have to be in that situation again but being in that position and having to deal with that pressure, which was very intense, is something you have to learn to cope with.
“It shows what characters we have in the team to help Derby County stay up.”
He added: “The first-team were a bit unlucky with injuries during the season, especially at centre-half, so I was down there for a few weeks and it was a chance to impress.”
Cashin, who signed professional terms with Derby in the summer of 2020 after two years as a scholar, trained with the first team on several occasions during the second half of the season.
Making the step-up from the Academy to training with senior professionals on a daily basis, naturally, presented its challenges - but Cashin enjoyed every second.
“When you are wanting to tell people what to do and be a leader, you need to have the knowledge yourself,” Cashin said.
“When you step into the first team squad, it can be difficult because you need to have the confidence to know what you are talking about and have the confidence to tell senior players what to do.
“I think it took me a few sessions to get vocal and have confidence to speak, but all the players are good lads.
“When they are vocal, I take it on; that is just how you have to be. You have got to show your character, otherwise the sessions and games will pass you by.
“You have to be vocal, and you have got to show what you can do and make an impact in training and in games.”
Cashin missed the opening months of the 2020/21 season due to injury.
His first appearance of the campaign at Under-23 level came in February and he made five successive starts before stepping up to Wayne Rooney’s squad.
He concluded the season with a 90-minute run-out in the Under-23s’ 3-1 victory at Manchester United on 10th May.
“There have been lots of challenges and lots of setbacks for me and at the start of the season I had to try and get through them,” Cashin said when looking back on his own season.
“I got back and felt I had some good performances with the Under-23s and then I went with the first-team a little bit towards the end of the season.
“That was another challenge and a different challenge to what I am used to. Overall, it has been a positive season for me.”
He added: “My goals definitely changed due to the injury I suffered early in the season because I wanted to try and kick on, get some starts with the Under-23s early in the season and try to push towards the first team set-up.
“Due to the injury I had to adapt and make sure that when I got back to the Under-23s, I played well. It almost happened a little bit later where I got down with the first team and, hopefully, I can get more of that in the future.”
Pat Lyons’ Under-23s once again impressed in Premier League 2 - Division 1 in 2020/21.
They finished sixth in the table, ahead of big-hitters Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, and Cashin is of the belief that the team once again rose to the challenge of competing against some of the best up-and-coming players in the country.
“It has been a really positive season for the Under-23s and if we look over all with the changes of players in the squads, we have kept the basics the same and the principles of being hard to beat,” he said.
“When you are coming up against teams like Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal – teams who will have a lot bigger budgets and better players you could say - then that is when we must be really organised, really hard to beat and horrible to play against.
“I think that is what we have been consistently over the season and I think that is why we have got so much success at Under-23 level.”