GARY Rowett says if he was picking a Burton Albion team purely on current form then Dominic Knowles and Matty Palmer would probably be starting matches.
The young duo are making a big impression in their first full seasons as first-team players at the Pirelli Stadium.
Knowles, 21, signed for the club from Conference North outfit Harrogate Town in January as one for the future while Palmer, 18, is a first-year professional.
“I think, in all honesty, if you were to judge players solely on what they do in training and in matches they’ve played in – and not on what they’ve achieved in their careers to date – both Dominic and Matty would have a very strong case to play in the team,” said Brewers boss Rowett Rowett.
Knowles faces competition for a start up front from Billy Kee, Michael Symes, Rene Howe and Adam McGurk, with Alex MacDonald also able to play as a striker.
Palmer, meanwhile, has the considerable axis of Lee Bell and Robbie Weir ahead of him in his preferred central midfield position, although Adam Reed came in for a run of games recently.
Rowett, though, is sure both Knowles and Palmer will get a starting chance soon – a second league start in the case of Knowles, who was unfortunate to last just 20 minute after starting at AFC Wimbledon because of Marcus Holness’ red card and the resultant need to bring on a defender.
“Sometimes, you have to push reputations to one side,” said the manager. “Do they deserve a chance?
“Dominic always looks very lively when he comes on. He runs hard and works the channels.”
Rowett rates Palmer, once in Derby County’s academy set-up before moving down the A38, very highly as one of the best prospects at Albion.
“Matty is the same as Dominic,” he said. “He’s the best passer of the ball in the club and he’s only 18.
“There’s going to come a point where there’s a responsibility on me to play him.
“Sooner or later he’s got to get a chance in the team.”