Milton Keynes Dons boss Karl Robinson faced an unusual dilemma at the weekend by the return to action of Mike Dove's under 18s side. He couldn't fill his substitute's bench for the 0-0 draw at Sheffield Wednesday.
Robinson included apprentices Dele Alli and Brandon Galloway on the bench for the FA Cup third round game at Hillsborough on Saturday.
The duo, both England youth internationals, were joined by Giorgio Rasulo who himself has been capped by the Three Lions this term at U16 level. And with a clear focus on youth, Robinson revealed that he would've taken Mason Spence and Harry Hickford had it not depleted the U18s so much.
"I would've filled my bench with youth players, but they had a game and I've taken four of his [Mike Dove] players already," said Robinson.
"I love working with young players. It's a burning desire of mine to get them through the system. It's good for them to be around professional's in a hotel environment, in the warm-up, getting changed, seeing the intensity from the manager and assistant manager, the anxiety of a sub waiting to go on, the facial expressions of someone playing - it's important and something we need to see more often.
"For me, the best youth development programme is having young players playing as high as they can as soon as they can. Unless they're playing competitive football, they're going to get lost in the system.
"I think it's important, and people tend to think you only put young players on then you're 3-0 up. I want to put them on at 1-1. They will never let you down, because they've got so much enthusiasm. They might make mistakes, but that's just human error.
"I thought Deli going on, at 16, looked an accomplished player. Giorgio Rasulo got in the England squad and scored the winner against Scotland at Burton. He's someone whose I've watched flourish over the last three or four years and it was nice to get him on.
"It's really important because we can't go and spend millions, so the only way I can bring in new players is look to youth. Is it brave? Not really, because I know they're not going to let me down."
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