Karl Robinson has backed full-back Ben Tilney to step up to the first team after impressing against Reading on Tuesday night.
The 19-year-old played both EFL Cup matches this season, scoring against Newport County to equalise in the 3-2 win, while helping his side to a penalty shoot-out against Reading midweek.
While he finds himself behind captain Dean Lewington in the pecking order at left back, Robinson says he’s keeping Tilney in the first team squad this season, but hopes he can make the step up.
“He’s one who could really move forward,” said Robinson. “I thought he was poor at Newport, apart from the goal, but his performance on Tuesday was far, far better, against a player we tried to sign in the summer.
“We knew how good Callum Harriott was, but Reading just outbid us. We knew it would be a difficult test for him, but he’s very good out of possession, and obviously very good in it.
“Hopefully, these games will have given him a lot of confidence.”
Tilney and the rest of the youngsters who made their first team debuts in the Cup will remain part of Robinson’s plans throughout this season, with the manager opting to keep the players in-house, rather than sending them out on loan to learn their trade at another club.
He said: “None of these young players will go out on loan now. They’ll all stay here, and we can increase their development here. They’ll all be a part of what we’re trying to do.
“They’re not as good as some of the first team players, but there are signs they can be. We can all see them going in the right way.”