Mark Robinson has rewarded first year professional Luke Jenkins for his impressive return after injury with a first-team call-up.
The centre-back's progress last season at Under-18 level was interrupted by a serious back injury, but he's bounced back emphatically and he will feature for us in the Papa John's Trophy game at home to Crystal Palace Under-21s.
"He has been out for a long time, but he’s a bright prospect for us," said Robbo. "He has come back and trained with the first-team and he has been fantastic, so I just wanted to reward him for his performances in training. He will only be able to do 45-60 minutes, but he has earned it, so I’m looking forward to seeing him.”
Scholars Quaine Bartley, Josh Hallard, and Isaac Olaniyan will also feature versus the Premier League club's youngsters at the Cherry Red Records Stadium. Dapo Mebude will return after missing two games due to illness, and Darius Charles will add experience in defence.
“Due to the amount of injuries that we’ve got it makes sense to play the youngsters," added Robbo. "Luke, Isaac, Quaine, and Josh will all be starting. We can’t really afford to lose Aaron (Pressley) and then we have the situation with injuries at centre-back. Across the board we are probably going to be younger than Crystal Palace. It will be interesting to see how they get on.
“Due to Covid, the Under-18s involved didn’t get the excitement of playing in front of fans in the FA Youth Cup last season. I am not sure what numbers we will get in terms of the crowd for this game, but for the Portsmouth match it was an incredible turnout. It was a brilliant atmosphere that night and it would be great if it was something similar this time as it’s the next step in their development. You want to see how they perform in these environments, so I’m looking forward to it.
“We will have Henry in there, he’s only just turned 20, and Dapo is the same age as him, so the only real experience in there will be Darius. We had a very good training session today, and I am really excited to see how the lads acquit themselves.”
See our Matchday Guide for more information about Tuesday night's game, and you can listen to Robbo's full pre-match interview by clicking on the link below.