Martin Devaney feels his young side may be lacking confidence following their 4-0 defeat against Crystal Palace on Monday afternoon.
The U23s had dominated the first half at Selhurst Park and would have been good value for at least a point in south London, but an early goal after the interval from Kian Flanagan turned the contest on its head as the floodgates opened.
“I think we’re lacking a few leaders; we go a goal down and they just can’t handle it at the moment,” admitted Devaney. “It’s mentality; it’s character, but they’ve got to show more resilience. They didn’t give up; they just lack that leadership at the moment.
“It’s a confidence thing too. In terms of development, we’ll work on that all week. We’ll analyse it, work on the mistakes, see what we can do better and go again on Friday.”
Flanagan completed a second half hat-trick as he converted two penalties either side of a long range piledriver from Lewis Bryon, as the young Reds fell to a second consecutive 4-0 loss.
However, Devaney believes there were more than enough encouraging signs in the first half to suggest that his team can bounce back against Coventry City on Friday.
“In the first half they were excellent in possession, playing through the thirds, playing out from the back and getting the rotations with the wide players coming in off the line to find the pockets in behind,” continued the U23s coach.
“The full-backs were overlapping and we were getting into the final third, but we just couldn’t score a goal. The build-up play, final third entries and penalty box entries were really good but we’re low on confidence, at the moment, it terms of finishing.
“You’d like to think on another day that we go in at half-time two or three up; we had plenty of opportunities but lacked that last piece of concentration just to get the shot off. But, at half-time, I was really pleased.
“I said to the lads that I couldn’t see Palace getting much worse and that I couldn’t see us getting much better, but we have to be more ruthless in the last third and take our chances. Unfortunately, in the second half, we sat back a little bit and they started on the front foot.
“Cameron Simpson had to go off late in the first half, so that altered the shape of the team and we couldn’t adapt to their movement. They had a ten-minute spell where they were ruthless and took their chances really well.”