Tony Pulis wants youngsters to play after Middlesbrough's penalty shootout victory in the Carabao Cup

Tony Pulis is keen to give his younger players a chance following Middlesbrough's penalty shootout victory over Notts County in the Carabao Cup.

Wednesday, 15th August 2018, 10:14 am
Updated Thursday, 16th August 2018, 2:45 pm
Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.
Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.

Boro came from behind three times against their League Two opponents to draw 3-3 at the Riverside, before progressing on spot kicks.

The hosts started with five academy graduates on the pitch, while three more came off the bench, including 16-year-old Nathan Wood-Gordon.

“It was absolutely fantastic to get all of them on the pitch,” said Pulis, who watched Ashley Fletcher score twice and defender Enes Mahmutovic grab a goal on his senior debut.

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“It was some game. There were six goals, we’ve come from behind three times and I think we ended the game having played eight young academy players. Then we won the penalty shootout," added Pulis.

“The support was fantastic. The supporters have come here wanting to enjoy a night, and they’ve seen the young players play. The young uns have enjoyed it, the supporters have enjoyed it and we’ve won, so it’s been a good night.

“Football clubs spend a lot of money on their academies now, and sometimes you get criticised for playing the young players in these competitions. But I’m a great believer that the kids have to play.”

Pulis has cut down his squad this season, allowing some of his younger players, the likes of Harry Chapman, Marcus Tavernier and Lewis Wing, to feature for the senior side.

Even so, the Boro boss would prefer to see the club's up-and-coming prospects go out on loan to gain experience.

“Young players today, playing academy football, it’s not really what is needed to become a professional footballer,” add Pulis.

“When you go out to clubs, you’re playing for a manager who needs to win games because he needs to keep his job.

“You’re playing for a group of supporters that are coming to see their team, so it’s not just the technical side of it, it’s the mental side too. That’s what the lads playing academy football week in, week out, don’t get.

“I hope a few of them get out on loan. If it was down to me, all of them would be out playing football on loan.”

Boro scored all four of their penalties to win 4-3 in the shootout, with Grant Leadbitter, Paddy McNair, Stephen Walker and Tavernier all converting from 12 yards.

And Pulis was delighted that so many were willing to step up under the pressure.

“The great thing was right at the end, when they came over before the penalties,” said the Boro boss.

“I’m a great believer that if you feel confident enough to take a penalty, then you give it to the person that feels confident.

“There was about six out of the seven young lads that came up wanting to take one. They were pushing Grant (Leadbitter) and Fletch (Fletcher) out of the way saying, ‘I want to take one’. That’s absolutely fantastic.”