Young Derby County will have gained from Selhurst experience, says boss
NIGEL Clough has urged Derby County's young midfielders to learn lessons from the defeat by table-toppers Crystal Palace as the Rams prepare to tackle Birmingham City, Cardiff City and Leicester City in the space of eight days.
Palace beat Derby 3-0 at Selhurst Park to stretch their unbeaten run to 14 matches.
The Eagles' skipper, Mile Jedinak, filled the holding role in midfield and he left the ground clutching the man-of-the-match champagne after a strong performance.
The 28-year-old Australian international along with 27-year-old South African international Kagisho Dikgacoi bossed matters in the middle of the pitch and Derby's youngsters found it tough.
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But Clough believes Will Hughes, Jeff Hendrick and Michael Jacobs can benefit from the experience.
"We had a 21-year-old, a 20-year-old and a 17-year-old playing against a big, organised side, so we have to put that into perspective," said Clough.
Derby's four-man midfield featured Hughes who is 17, Hendrick at 20 and Jacobs, who turned 21 earlier this month. At 24, Paul Coutts was the oldest of the midfielders, given that 26-year-old Craig Bryson played just off striker Conor Sammon.
"The youngsters will have learnt a lot from their encounter with Palace's midfielders," said Clough.
"It was tough for the young lads but it's a big education for them and they spoke about it in the dressing room after the game.
"Palace gave us so little time on the ball and although it was disappointing for the lads, we'd encourage them to learn from it."
Clough felt the Palace game was a step up for Hughes, who has caught the eye this season.
Hughes, young enough to play for the under-18s, has become a regular in the first team.
He has started all but one of the 17 League games and he made his debut for England Under-21s against Northern Ireland last week.
"Will said Palace were a yard sharper than he had come up against this season," said Clough.