Robbie Neilson says that a humbling 4-0 defeat at home to Chelsea U21s will be a ‘learning curve’ for some of his young players.
Dons excited the Checkatrade Trophy this evening after being comprehensively outplayed by a Blues ‘youth’ side that featured Belgium international Michy Batshuayi, a £35million forward who won the title with the first team last season.
The visitors raced into a 3-0 lead at half-time at stadiummk thanks to two goals from Batshuayi, and a howler from Dons stopper Wieger Sietsma on the cusp of half-time which gifted England U17 star Callum Hudson-Odoi a goal.
Charly Musonda made it four after the break, and Neilson admitted it was always going to be a tough ask of a relatively young Dons side.
He said: “It’s not great getting beat by that score at home. It’s one of the things with this tournament, it’s difficult to know where they’re going with it to be honest when you’re playing Chelsea U21s and they’ve got a £35m striker and a £10m left-back playing.
“It was always going to be difficult for us tonight, and we played a few of the younger ones to give them some game time and experience. We’re disappointed with the result, but it’s a learning curve for them to play against players like that.”
Dons won’t come up against many teams in League One who have the sheer pace that Chelsea’s young prodigies had, and for the Dons boss, it was a decent indicator for his own young players of how high the standards to reach the big sides are.
Neilson added: “It was a difficult night, we didn’t see a lot of the ball and spent a lot of the time chasing, but we worked hard. It’s a good experience for them getting some first-team action and playing against those players and the level they are at.
“It shows there’s a long long way to go for some of these players to get to the top.
“We see this trophy as an opportunity to get to Wembley, but it’s very difficult when teams put that kind of strike force out. We have to move on, and we have a game on Saturday now against Shrewsbury to look forward to.”