Manager Keith Hill admits he was pleased with his young side’s performance in Tuesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy win over Fleetwood Town…
It was another proud night for the Academy, as six current players/ Academy graduates were named in the squad for the match, including 16-year-old Luke Matheson who made his first senior start for the club.
“It was enjoyable to watch. I though the players were excellent,” he told iFollow.
“There was good energy and intelligence, and hopefully they’ll learn from the experience.
“It’s a game where I expect the players to be able to express themselves, and they did. They took control of the opponent, and when you do that, it’s a hard slog.
“It’s a Checkatrade Trophy game but we’re not experimenting, we’re building for the future. I’ve put the challenge down to the players – I’ve said to them to go as far as you possibly can and you’ll be rewarded.”
The 2-0 victory means Dale have already qualified for the knockout phase of the competition with a game to spare, and Hill says he’ll field a similar sort of line-up for the final group stage tie, which is against Leicester City’s under-21s in November.
“I’ll definitely put a similar sort of side out against Leicester. We’re going to stick with the same strategy and philosophy. It’s important that Daniel Adshead, Luke Matheson, Aaron Morley and Matty Gillam, if he’s fit, play. I want it to be energetic and I want players to be put in a position where there’s a bit of pressure on them, and I want them to respond and perform. I saw another good performance today, and it’s what I’ve been seeing from a good group.”
Jordan Williams opened his account for the club, scoring to break the deadlock after just 16 minutes. It’s a goal that’s richly deserved, and Hill is pleased for him.
“Jordan is all energy. I’ve told him to treat the football pitch like a running track, and if he does that, the other players will score. I’m pretty pleased with what Jordan is doing.
“It took him a long time to settle in and be part of the environment and feel like he was part of the environment. I’m not saying that in any shape, way or form that he’s going to be the next Jamie Vardy, but Jamie Vardy suffered similar in his first 12-18 months at Leicester. He’s acclimatising to the way we do things but he’s all in, and he puts players under extreme pressure with his energy.”
The only downside to the night was the injury sustained by Adshead, after he was scythed down from behind by Kyle Dempsey late in the first half. Hill reckons the young midfielder could be facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
“I was pleased with the way Dan was playing. It’s a cynical challenge and not a great one from a fellow professional. Dan has done a lovely turn and the player has a left a bit on him.
“The consequences are that Dan is probably going to be out for a fair length of time, which is sad to see. I’m an old school manager and an old school player, where that type of challenge is not an acceptable challenge.
“He was a player I had in mind for Saturday [against Doncaster] but now he’s not going to be available. He’s right on point with what we’re doing at the moment in time with the Youth Team and these games that we’ve got. The challenge was there for him tonight to go and make sure he got a chance to play on Saturday and I think he was giving himself that chance, so it’s a shame that’s he had to come off.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.