Development squad coach Edu Rubio speaks exclusively to the Citizen about his side's opener against Southend on Monday.
“The score line 5-4 wasn’t exactly what we had in mind after the first half, going in 4-1 up, but a win is a win and that’s what we set out to do.
“It has fit the purpose, and has been like a mentoring programme for some of the younger players with the pros in the dressing room.
“It was very important to have experienced players in there because we’re trying to create something between this team and the first team.
“We want the U23s to be a reserve team, and to be a team for players in the first team who don’t have enough minutes, or are coming back from an injury, like Chuks, to get that chance to play and prepare for Saturday.
“Ultimately, this teams is about supporting Robbie, while also giving game time to the U23s who don’t necessarily train with the first team.
“It’s important now we start to bridge that gap between the academy and the first team. I was supported by first team coach Neil MacFarlane so it shows it’s not just an U23 game operated by the academy, but a game also operated by the first team.
“Robbie came and spoke to the players afterwards, and that’s important for everyone too.
“Whenever they have the chance to go into first team games now, they’ll know what they need to do.
“We shouldn’t forget some of the youngsters played 90 minutes on Saturday as well, and didn’t have much time to recover. You look at the top flight and ask how they can play Champions League on a Tuesday if you’ve played on Saturday - well these guys played on Saturday and then again on Monday afternoon.
“Against Southend, we looked more like a group of players than a team.
“Now we’ve got a game under our belts, I hope we can start operating as a proper team.
“Our next game is on Wednesday September 13 against Peterborough in the Cup, but then the next game won’t be until October. That will give us time though to start playing like a team.”