Martin Devaney believes his young players will have benefitted from playing with members of the senior squad against Newcastle United.
The U23s, who fielded Jack Walton, Jordan Williams, Aapo Halme, Dani Pinillos, Callum Styles and George Miller in the first half, ran out 3-1 winners on Tuesday afternoon courtesy of a Sam Fielding header and two own goals.
“Playing with the first team players helps us because they’ve got to understand the levels,” insisted Devaney. “All the players know they’ve got to improve – that’s why they’re with me in the development programme so they can keep improving and creating good habits.
“In terms of their specific roles, we’re trying to improve their strengths and weaknesses all the time. It will have been a good experience for the lads, playing with first team players, and especially playing against the quality and experience of the Newcastle side.
“The second half was a challenge and we didn’t start as well as we usually do – I think a few were maybe a bit nervous and some a bit disappointed that they didn’t start, but that’s all a learning process.
“They stuck to it and it was probably a bit more of an out of possession practice, but they did well and handled it. I thought for the third goal it was a really good interchange of play; we got a bit fortunate with the finish, but there were some pleasing things.”
The young Reds begin their Professional Development League campaign on Monday afternoon away to Coventry City, and will be looking to build on last season’s seventh place finish.
Barnsley ended the term 12 games unbeaten en route to amassing a record points tally of 39, and Devaney is keen to see his young side continue to make improvements and develop both individually and collectively.
“We’ve got four or five days now to go through things from this game – what we could have done better and things that we did well, then our focus will be Monday,” continued the U23s coach.
“Yes, we want to go and play the games, but it’s about the lads getting better and us improving them and trying to push the lads.
“We’ve set a really high level of performance at the moment and I’m trying to get the lads to keep to that so they can push the first team players, so that when they get the opportunity they can then step up with the first team and it’s not a problem.”