Connor Southwell: Throwing in the youngsters is a difficult decision for Farke
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
There are plenty of criticisms that can be levelled at Daniel Farke during his three-year stint at Norwich City, but being a coach who doesn't place his trust in young players isn't one.
The Canaries are in the midst of an injury crisis, meaning five academy graduates took their places on the bench at Luton. Social media was left confused after City's boss elected to wait until the 85 minutes before Tyrese Omotoye entered the pitch.
Despite the criticism that came his way, Farke is far from a coach who doesn't believe in or understand the importance of young players.
It was an East Anglian Derby that provided the backdrop to Max Aarons' first league start. It was into a hostile Carrow Road that Jamal Lewis entered the pitch during a defeat to Brentford.
Whatever the occasion, Farke hasn't been fazed if the player in question is ready - the point City's boss would make is that those currently filling the bench are not. Omotoye and Andrew Omobamidele are both highly thought of at club but, barring this injury curse, wouldn't be anywhere near the first-team picture without them.
That's not a reflection on their respective abilities, but more an indication of how far along they are on their developmental journeys. Those currently operating for the club's under-23s are players not yet ready to take that next step into the first-team or to get a loan elsewhere.
Take Akin Famewo, for example, a player who is getting closer to the first-team picture, he is currently playing a year in League One and impressing. That is the type of experience City look for prior to consideration for Farke's first-team.
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It was the route taken by Ben Godfrey and Todd Cantwell in years gone by.
Every player is different. Some, like Aarons, get propelled straight into the starting line-up and adapt seamlessly. But that is a rarity.
Even before the Luton fixture, Farke stated these players weren't ready. Throwing them into the Lion's Den could have proven to be more damaging for their development.
Gone are the days when players needed to 'toughen up' and get kicked. Now they need to be prepared, and these players are at such an age where a serious setback could jeopardise their entire career and knock them for six without the necessary tools to recover.
As Farke stood in conversation with his coaching staff, that would have been a factor discussed, especially given Luton had chances to extend their lead. Then it begins to affect the self-confidence of the group and the trust those senior players have in the youngsters.
It's a difficult balance to strike. Farke can't throw these players into a Championship game. It goes against his methodological approach to young players and how he integrates them into his squad.
Every decision is considered at length, everything done with logic applied. To go against that would be against his nature. He isn't impulsive or a short-termist. He developed talent at one of Europe's biggest clubs.
Applying his logic, Farke made the correct call not to expose them to the heat of battle on both occasions.
But this debate is more nuanced than that. City are in such a desperate situation that Farke will have to utilise his squad, especially given the nature of the injury crisis and the current load being placed on those fit and available.
It is not a coincidence that a number of those injured are struggling with muscular injuries, that indicates an overload. Farke made the point that the increase in knee injuries has resulted in a smaller recovery period which is making players more susceptible to long-term injuries.
Nor is it chance that four players involved in recent internationals, Teemu Pukki, Tim Krul, Kenny McLean and Adam Idah find themselves out injured.
There was a point in the second half, as came against Coventry, where those on the pitch begin to look leggy. Farke was one of the most vocal coaches in calling for the re-introduction of five substitutes, but since the rule change came into force, City are yet to utilise their full quota of replacements.
Pukki's return comes as a major boost for Farke and his side and the return of supporters can help them extract that extra percentage that could prove the difference between one point and three.
The Finn's return could see City name eight substitutes, the most since the increase to nine subs was approved.
Whether Farke changes this outlook after a longer period of training with these young prospects or not remains to be seen, but it will be a conversation that shifts with the imminent return of Jordan Hugill, Cantwell and Kieran Dowell.