Under 21s

Collins | ‘There’s lots to learn as always’

4 min read

Wolves under-21s head coach James Collins conceded it was a tough evening at Derby County but despite the Rams running out 4-1 winners, he has insisted there are learnings to take.

The youngsters in Old Gold bowed out of the Bristol Street Motors Trophy following defeat at Pride Park, however Collins was quick to point out the level of opposition his side were facing and the toughness of the challenge.

On the game and missing players

“It’s a strange thing to say but we showed great spirit and I thought we showed great fight. They are such hard nights for under-21 players.

“I saw the results last night. I think Chelsea got beat five, Leicester got beat four, Tottenham got beat four – they’re so hard for a young under-21 team.

“We had a few missing tonight. Bruno’s (Jordao) been playing for us and is suspended, Owen Hesketh’s injured, Tawanda’s (Chirewa) with the first-team which is brilliant.

“Coming to places like this without your strongest team is very tough and we knew it was going to be a big challenge for our boys.”

On a tough night

“In the first half, without playing great football, we stayed in the game and competed very well. We gave the goal away just before half-time which was frustrating, then we got the equaliser in the second half and I thought maybe that would give us a foothold to get playing a bit and get us passing the ball better, but they scored a really good goal quite quickly.

“I thought we lost a bit of faith then and we were hanging on a little bit. Derby brought a few young players on at the end but by that time, our spirit might’ve been broken a little bit.

“It was a tough night, but a night we expected. There’s lots to learn as always. We’ve got to play quicker, we were dribbling a little bit too much which we’d maybe get away with at our level. You’ve got to play quicker, see the pictures quicker, pass the ball quicker.

“We stuck at it and I can’t fault their effort, I can’t fault the fight – it was just probably a little bit too much for us tonight.”

On the competition and learning from it

“This competition shows our boys what it takes to play under the lights at a Football League team. We can’t recreate that in our league – we can recreate technique, we can recreate styles of play, but we can’t recreate real football. Tonight was real football.

“It’s very difficult for under-21 teams to get through and qualify – no one’s ever got near to a final with under-21s.

“We had a good result at Notts County which set us up nicely. Lincoln was very similar to tonight. We conceded a poor goal early in that game but then stayed in the game and maybe had one or two chances that could’ve got us something. Then they probably got a goal at the end having threatened in the last 10 minutes when we were tiring, so a 2-0 defeat.

“Tonight was probably a step too far against a really strong team. This club isn’t a League One football club.

“You can see by the stadium, by the players they’ve got, the facilities and it was a bit much for us. We’ve got to accept that and learn from it. That’s the job.

“We’ve got some young players on the pitch and some players who haven’t ever faced evenings like tonight.

“Learning can’t all be about success and winning. Learning has to be about how you reflect on and how you adapt to tough situations, and tonight was a tough situation.”

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