GARY Rowett would like to give an opportunity to Burton Albion’s promising young players – but accepts it is difficult with the club engaged in a promotion battle.
The Brewers have a handful of youngsters who are champing at the bit to show what they can do in the first-team.
But with Albion going for the League Two play-offs – or even an automatic promotion place – it is unlikely the likes of Matty Palmer will get in.
“There are three or four youngsters who’ve got the potential to progress from the apprentices to being a professional,” said Rowett, who cut his teeth as a youngster at Cambridge United before a big move to Everton.
“I think Matty Palmer is the obvious one we’d like to get involved at some stage soon.”
Palmer, who was formerly with Derby County, joined the first-team squad this season after impressing in his first year as an apprentice at the club, winning the most improved player award.
He has continued to look good for the club’s reserve side, and played in the 0-0 draw with Port Vale on Tuesday.
“Matty’s been in one or two matchday squads this season,” said Rowett, whose side travels to take on Fleetwood Town tomorrow, kick-off 3pm. “I was hoping there might be an opportunity to blood him.
“That was our aim, but every game has become a must-win for us with the situation we’re in.
“That puts a lot of pressure on and there have been lads not involved who are ahead of the youngsters.”
There are several other prospects impressing, including Liam Slade and Harry Austin, who will hope to turn pro and then challenge for a first-team place in due course.
Palmer, though, remains at the head of the queue for a chance, although the form of midfield duo Lee Bell and Robbie Weir, plus the back-up of Jack Dyer, means he will be unlikely to start this season.
“Matty’s very, very good on the ball and is probably as good as anybody at the club at keeping hold of the ball,” said Rowett. “He’s not big, so that side of it is a big thing for him.
“He’s got lots of good attributes.”
Another player who has realised his potential at the club, Jacques Maghoma, was linked with a move away from the Pirelli Stadium at the end of the season.
Rowett would like to keep his star midfielder and says any move up the Football League pyramid would be testament to the Brewers and how they develop young players.
“I think if he carries on playing like he has done and carries on doing well and working hard, what happens in the summer will look after itself,” said the Albion boss. “If we can try to keep him, we will do so.
“That’s a no-brainer. And if there are two or three clubs after him from a higher level, we’ve done our job.
“As a League Two club, there are going to be players who see us a stepping stone in their career. If we provide that, then other players will be attracted to us.”