YOUNGSTERS Liam Slade and Marcus Harness could get their full Burton Albion debuts at Southend tomorrow.
The 18-year-olds are in the Brewers squad for the trip to Roots Hall, kick-off 3pm, Albion’s last game before going into the play-offs.
There is little at stake in the match, with both sides already in the play-offs, except for deciding who plays who.
“There’s nothing on the game, but for the players that are going to be playing there’s lots to play for in terms of putting something in my mind for the play-offs,” said Brewers boss Gary Rowett.
“From our point of view there’s no right or wrong way to approach the game.
“Out of the four teams, everyone will have slightly different ways of looking at things.
“It’s about going through with a fully fit squad and as many players ready and as well-prepared as can be.”
Avoiding any more injuries is crucial, with Damien McCrory (knee) and Jimmy Phillips (knee) out for the season.
Shane Cansdell-Sherriff (Achilles) should be back for the second leg of the play-offs, while Adam McGurk (groin) will be back in full training next week.
“With two or three injuries, the team doesn’t automatically pick itself, as it did for a spell recently,” said Rowett.
“You can have different thoughts. If I play Ian Sharps and he pulls his hamstring after five minutes, what would the fans be thinking then?
“But then you can pick up an injury the day before the play-offs.
“You have to make a decision - is it best to rest players or pick your best team?”
Slade, a decent young centre-half, and Harness, a tricky winger, are expected to play some part at Roots Hall, and Rowett would love to get them involved.
“One of our aims is to give people a glimpse of what’s to come in the next few years,” said the Brewers boss.
“If we end up with two 18-year-olds on the pitch and Matty Palmer, who’s just 19, that would be terrific.
“They can be huge assets to our football club and we can be proud of them and our academy.
“I would like to be able to do that.”
One player whose absence is a disappointment to Rowett is McGurk.
The 25-year-old forward would have started at Roots Hall had he been fit - although the manager is confident the Northern Irish forward can come straight back in for the play-offs.
“I would’ve loved to start him with a view to seeing where he’s at with the injury,” he said. “It would’ve been some additional fitness work for him.
“But he’s naturally fit and athletic and I don’t see it as a hindrance to him taking part in the play-offs.
“The game’s just come a bit too quick.”