Stoke City's coach Wade Elliott lavished praise on the first-team players who were involved in the U23s’ victory over Middlesbrough on Monday evening.
Jakob Haugaard, Tom Edwards, Kevin Wimmer, Ramadan and Jese were all selected to start against Dave Parnaby’s Boro side all hoping to impress watching City boss, Paul Lambert and members of the first team management staff.
Reported by the club's official website, the array of experienced first team squad players did not disappoint and applied themselves as if playing in the EPL which served to inspire their young team mates to record the team's first Premier League Two win since October.
Tyrese Campbell netted a double either side of Ramadan’s second half strike, in a game which saw both sides score their goals within a turbulent second half at St George’s Park.
Elliot reiterated in his own admiration and said: “We’ve said to the first team lads, including the manager, that we thought they were excellent, we all know they are good players, that’s a given, but their appetite for the game was top class. I said to our boys that it’s a fantastic experience for them.
“You have to recognise, we have an Under-18 playing alongside an experienced international in Kevin Wimmer. And then we have another Under-18 playing centre forward either side of Ramadan and Jese.
“These games are what we work hard all week towards. The first team players have different needs out of the game to us, and we appreciate it, but we try and make sure we are enthusiastic and energetic, so they can feed off that.
“This league is about developing players, and you want to be able to develop players to win. A big part of the game is that instinct, so it’s always nice to win. On balance, I reckon we did deserve the victory.”
Lambert and his backroom staff are still very much embedding their ethos on the Stoke City squad since being appointed, players have to earn the right to be selected and apply themselves correctly. The former Scottish international would not have felt dissatisfied after seeing the level of application and commitment from some of his first team squad in this development game.