Hoolahan shining example of how to make an impression

Chris Lakey Ian Crook believes Wes Hoolahan is an example of the benefits of reserve team football.Hoolahan was axed by manager Paul Lambert for three League One games, but a couple of outstanding performances in the second string helped him back into his first team plans, culminating in his scoring reappearance against Charlton at the weekend.

Chris Lakey

Ian Crook believes Wes Hoolahan is an example of the benefits of reserve team football.

Hoolahan was axed by manager Paul Lambert for three League One games, but a couple of outstanding performances in the second string helped him back into his first team plans, culminating in his scoring reappearance against Charlton at the weekend.

And with City now playing competitive reserve team games after a season of friendlies, Crook believes the improvement in quality is bringing its rewards - for young players as well as more established professionals.


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"I think the gaffer has not been afraid to put in young boys if he believes they're good enough and Korey (Smith) has come in, Tom Adeyemi has been in, and Luke Daley so the encouragement for these other boys is if they can play well at this level he will give them a chance - and the older ones as well," Crook said.

"They only need to look at Wes to see what two good performances in the reserves can do because he's probably come in from out of the picture, to say the least, put in two great performances and the gaffer has put him in and he did well at the weekend."

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Moving into the Combination League East Division has clearly made a difference.

"It's a competitive league and my preference is to play games," said Crook. "I think you are far better playing competitive games like that than - with no disrespect intended to your Yarmouths and that because it was fantastic for us last year to play them - this is obviously where, especially our younger boys need to learn what it's like at the next level up."

City have had a mixed bag of results so far: having opened with a 5-0 win at home to Southend they went to Peterborough last week and lost 5-2 and were then beaten 1-0 by Watford at Carrow Road on Tuesday.

However, Crook says the competition has helped pinpoint the likely players of the future.

"I've been happy with the likes of Josh Dawkin - I thought Josh was excellent against a good Peterborough side and I thought he came on against Watford and was a threat as well," he said. "Danny Kelly came in and did a good job at the back, George Francomb is progressing - there are some good things there for the boys.

"They need to see what they need to do to step up to the next level.

"This is your bread and butter and if you can produce out here against decent well-organised sides then it gives you a good chance of going on and stepping into the first team."

City midfielder Damon Lathrope missed a penalty before keeper Michael Theoklitos conceded one after some fancy footwork went wrong - and Liam Henderson converted.

"I actually thought second half we played some decent football," said Crook.

"We moved the ball quite well and got ourselves into some decent areas, but it's what is said to the boys afterwards - we had this conversation with the young boys today in a chat myself and the gaffer had with them, that so much can happen in the game but the game is won and lost in both penalty areas and this was probably the ultimate case of that."

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