Derby County beat Notts County 7-1 in a behind-closed-doors friendly.
Derby County manager Paul Clement has singled out youngsters Offrande Zanzala, Callum Guy and Alex Cover for praise as they featured against Notts County on Thursday, the club’s official website report.
The Rams were out of action this weekend due to the international break and therefore set up a behind-closed-doors friendly with neighbours Notts County, a game in which they ran out 7-1 winners.
Importantly, previously injured duo Craig Bryson and Jake Buxton played the entire 90 minutes while Tom Ince, Darren Bent and Andreas Weimann found the net as they were also given runouts.
However, speaking to Rams Player after the game, Clement reserved special words of praise for his young guns who also featured having stepped from the U21 and U18 squads.
“It was also a chance to see some of our younger players in and around the first team, it was a beneficial exercise,” Clement was quoted as saying.
“Offrande, who has been doing well with our Under 21 group, got 20 minutes up front alongside Darren Bent and looked very dangerous.”
“We had Callum Guy, who also looked comfortable in centre midfield and young Alex Cover at centre back. They all did very well.”
“You have to look at how they are developing in all areas. You have to look at their personality and whether or not they have got the confidence to make that step up.”
“Then there are the other attributes to consider, like physicality and how they are tactically. It’s about asking them whether they can step up to the challenges and those three did that against Notts County.”
After being granted Category One status, Derby are very serious when they talk about the academy and how they wish to see at least one player make the step up to the first-team squad each season.
The likes of Will Hughes, Jeff Hendrick, Jamie Hanson and even Lee Grant previously all came through the academy and they set a good precedent for those currently vying to make the grade.
Zanzala, a 19-year-old forward who recently won the Barclays U21 Player of the Month award for October, looks a real prospect and could be knocking on the door for a first-team start late next year.