JAKE Buxton was pleased to see Reece Hutchinson get through his first 90 minutes of football of the season - and with the performances of several other Academy graduates and prospects - on Tuesday night.
The Brewers played our final Papa John’s Trophy group stage game against Fulham U21s behind closed doors at the Pirelli Stadium, barely 48 hours removed from an FA Cup game at Barnet on Sunday.
Hutchinson has been sidelined at the start of the 2020/21 season following a metatarsal injury suffered over the summer, the young Academy graduate having to work his way back to fitness and getting minutes in a friendly at St George’s Park in recent weeks.
The 20-year-old was named in the starting XI against Fulham for the first time this season and played the full match on the left flank, grabbing the assist for Ryan Edwards’ equaliser in a game that finished 1-1, with Albion taking the extra point in the penalty shootout.
And as well as Hutchinson, Buxton also had praise for other youngsters taking to the field on the night.
“The performance levels were good, for saying we had a lot of young lads out there and a lot of lads who’ve not had much game time this season,” said Buxton.
“There were some big performances from Owen Gallacher, Reece Hutchinson and Ben Hart. They haven’t played many minutes but got an opportunity and all three have taken it.
“For Reece to miss as much football as he did, get 90 minutes and perform to the standard that he did, was very good.”
Albion started with four Academy graduates against Fulham - Hutchinson and Hart along with Ciaran Gilligan and Teddy Sharman-Lowe - and two Academy youngsters were given their debuts as they came on at half-time.
First-year pro Tom Armitage came on for Neal Eardley at the break for his senior Brewers bow while second-year scholar Thierry Latty-Fairweather replaced captain John Brayford at centre-half and caught the eye with his ability on the ball.
And when asked about Latty-Fairweather post-match, Buxton discussed what the youngster needed to do to continue along his path to the first-team.
“Thierry is a footballing centre-half - he’s the opposite to me, he’s calm on the ball, nothing fazes him,” said Buxton.
“We need to get a little bit of aggression into his game but he’s got a huge future if he keeps his feet on the ground and keeps listening to what the Academy staff are telling him.
“He’s stepped up a couple of times to train with the first-team. He’s travelled away with the first-team too a couple of times, and made the teas on the coach which goes a long way with the group.
“Provided he keeps his feet on the ground, we’ll give him opportunities to play first-team football.”