Brighton & Hove Albion defender Ben Barclay believes the under-23 contingent rose to the challenge in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup tie against Southampton.
Barclay, along with Viktor Gyokeres and Will Collar made their senior first-team debuts against the Saints and the centre-back feels they can be satisfied with their displays.
He said, “I was reasonably happy with the performance in what was a good test for us young lads, but it was frustrating to concede right at the end.
“To concede in the last five minutes of any game is annoying, but us young lads can be proud of ourselves as we played against some good players.
“It was a bit of a makeshift back four, but I thought we did quite well for the majority of the game and communication was key.
“Bernardo was playing out of his usual position - myself and Will were making our debuts, so talking among the back four was key on the night.”
The 21-year-old was in action against Saints forward Manolo Gabbiadini, and he enjoyed going head-to-head against the experienced frontman.
“I remember watching him against United in the EFL Cup Final, and I thought he was a good player then.
“When you play against him, you realise that his movement is even better than what you see on TV.
“I’ll take so much from the game. I had to stay with his runs in the box, and I’ll learn so much from it.”
After travelling up to Anfield at the weekend, the centre-back explained how the feeling of playing on Tuesday was made even sweeter and is now targeting more minutes with the first team.
“I travelled up to Anfield on Saturday and I missed out on getting on the bench there, but it was still a good experience.
“I was then back training over the weekend, and yesterday [Monday] the team got confirmed for the first time.
“I now just want to keep pushing, be in and around the squad and play as many games as I can.”