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Russ Wilcox: The lads put a lot of effort into a game against a team with a lot of experience

4 February 2020

Russ Wilcox was pleased with his Under-23s side’s output on Monday night, against an experienced Hull City team in the Premier League Cup.

United were twice in front through goals from Devarn Green and George Miller, but were pegged back on both occasions, before suffering a cruel late goal which saw the Tigers take all three points.

Speaking to iFollow Iron following the game, Wilcox said: “I’m disappointed for the lads. They put a lot of effort into that game.

“They had five first team players in their team, with a lot of experience. First half, I thought we were outstanding in and out of possession. We had great shape without the ball, which we spoke about, even though we haven’t had a lot of time to work on these things with the Under-23s.

“We probably just ran out of legs a little bit and they freshened up as well. They brought some quality players on with a little bit more pace and nicked the game right at the death which was disappointing because I think we deserved at least a draw from the game. I just spoke to Andy Dawson and he said exactly that as well.

“Overall, I’m pleased with the performance, pleased with the attitude, application and everything else that goes with it. The lads are disappointed in there, which is good, because you want to try and win every game.”

The positives also stretched as far as the first team, with Green getting a goal after pulling on an Iron shirt for the first time, while Miller notched his fourth in the competition this season. Yann Songo’o also got an hour on his return from injury.

“That was George’s fifth goal for us in three games for the Under-23s and hopefully that will give him a lift towards the first team,” he continued.

“Dev has done great. I’ve not seen a lot of him, but he’s got good pace and energy. I thought he tired a little bit towards the end, which is understandable coming from part-time football to full-time football. It will take him a little time to get up to speed. There’s lots of promise there.

“It’s vital. We need as many bodies as we possibly can between now and the end of the season. Yann got 60 minutes, so we’ll assess him on Tuesday. Do we put him out again on Thursday? I’m not sure at this moment in time, but he does need some game time.

“There are lots of positives for the younger players as well. Harry Jessop has come on and done a role. We’ve had to put round pegs in square holes towards the end a little bit. Charlie Barks has played against quality and I thought Jai Rowe was excellent, Tom Pugh was very tenacious, so there were some really good performances.”

The side are now half way through their Premier League Cup group stage fixtures, with the trio all coming at home. Now, the same sides are to be faced away from home over the next couple of weeks.

Reflecting on the three games, the side can feel hard done to that they only have one point, but against stronger and more experienced set-ups, the Iron can take a lot of confidence from performances: “All the three teams that we’ve faced are Category One set-ups and we are Category Three. 

“I’ve been very proud of the performances and this is more about the development. They must be learning so much from games like this. We show them their clips, we go through the games with them and they are improving each game, so I’m really pleased.”

After a gulf between fixtures over the winter period, Scunthorpe should complete the second half of their Premier League Cup matches in just under two weeks, including an extra meeting against West Bromwich Albion in the Central League Cup.

“Games are coming thick and fast,” Wilcox added.

“Hopefully we’ve got enough bodies. We might have to use a fair bit of the youth team on Thursday as they’ve not got a game this weekend. We’ve got to be careful with the lads who are around the first team.”

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