Blackburn had too much guile for Derby County youngsters, admits Nigel Clough
NIGEL Clough admitted his young players struggled to cope with Blackburn Rovers' know-how and quality after watching Derby County crash out of the FA Cup.
Derby lost 3-0 in Saturday's FA Cup fourth round tie to a club who were relegated from the Premier League at the end of last season.
The Rams team contained three players aged 20 and under in 17-year-old Will Hughes, 20-year-old Mark O'Brien and Jeff Hendrick, who turns 21 this week.
Hughes and Hendrick found themselves up against the experience of Danny Murphy and Morten Gamst Pedersen in central midfield.
Murphy, a former England international, has played more than 700 club matches in his career and Pedersen, a Norwegian international, has racked up more than 400 club appearances.
Clough felt this was a telling factor but the Rams manager believes his young players will be better for the experience.
"It was a tough day for some of the young lads, playing against Murphy and Pedersen," said Clough.
"They are internationals and we have a 17-year-old and a 20-year-old in there who are learning.
"Up front, Jordan Rhodes and Colin Kazim-Richards are as big a handful as there is in the Championship.
"So it was a tough day for us, all over the pitch.
"Blackburn had the experience and we haven't quite got that but our young lads shouldn't be too despondent because they've all had a great first half of the season.
"Sometimes, they will learn more from a defeat than they would from a victory.
"Although they might not feel great at the moment, it is a big learning curve for them."
Clough also pointed to the finances involved when he compared the two teams.
"I think Blackburn's two strikers and Danny Murphy add up to the complete wage bill of our squad and I think that puts it into persepctive," said Clough.
"When you look at that in the pure cold light of day, what right do we have to compete with them?
"Blackburn's playing staff is as good as anything in the Championship, if not better. Of the three relegated clubs, they have retained players and added to their squad.
"We just copped for them on a good day.
"But as much as the quality hurts you, you still don't give anything away. You have to hang on at 0-0.
"That's the next step for us. If we want to move to the next stage, we cannot give as many goals away as we do."