Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft said he was delighted to give U21s striker Jordan Graham his full Stags debut on Tuesday night and hoped it would fill the other young players with hope.
Graham, 20, played the first 65 minutes of the 2-1 Checkatrade Trophy win over Wolves U21s and Flitcroft said: “Jordan Graham has been knocking – he’s been training really well.
“It gives everyone hope as we try to move the whole thing forward.
“We have had quite a few young players training with us. It’s okay training but they want to have an opportunity.
“Jordan has been waiting in the wings. He’s been listening, he’s been learning and he got minutes in tonight.
“He is a really good finisher and I told him at half-time to believe in himself and get in the box.
“It’s about understanding. A seasoned striker knows that when Mal Benning has that body shape to cross, he’s getting in there as you know it’s coming in with pace and quality.”
Flitcroft said fellow youngster Lewis Gibbens came close to starting too but circumstances dictated it wasn’t possible.
“Gibbo was unlucky not to play on Tuesday,” he said. “With Pearcey going on international duty I wanted to give him another 90 minutes and have a look at White and Preston as a combination with him as it’s not one we’ve utilised yet.”
But chances will come for him and others in the future.
“I want those U21s to think they won’t be overlooked.
“The new training ground will help with that when the U21s are alongside us and Coops (Academy coach Richard Cooper) is up there,” he said.
“I will be able to get out in the afternoon and coach the U21s and U18s lucky enough to come up to the training ground.”