Fleetwood Town’s faith in their youngsters shows the club is heading in the right direction, according to head coach Joey Barton.
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Dylan Boyle, aged just 16, became the second youth-team player to make his senior debut for the club this season when he came off the bench in Tuesday’s 2-2 EFL Trophy draw with Leicester City U21s.
Boyle followed in the footsteps of fellow 16-year-old James Hill, who made his debut in the League Cup defeat by Leicester’s first team last month. Fellow youth products Nathan Sheron and Gerard Gardner also gained minutes off the bench on Tuesday.
There was also a full debut for teenage full-back Eddie Clarke, a summer signing from Tranmere.
Barton said after Tuesday’s match: “We always had it in our mind that we’d get players on to the pitch.
“We had Eddie Clarke making his debut at 19, Gerard Gardner comes on, another 19-year-old, and obviously to get 16-year-old Dylan Boyle on there is pleasing for the football club. It’s really positive signs for us.
“Our young lads will come out of this better players. They’ve got an experience of a penalty shootout and Gerard steps up and puts his away. All that bodes well for his future.
“That’s what we can do at Fleetwood – we can get players from our academy into the first team.”
Fleetwood were unfortunate not to win their opening group game, having looked to be heading for all three points when they took a two-goal lead courtesy of Chris Long and Conor McAleny.
But Cian Bolger’s second- half red card changed the game, with Ryan Loft scoring twice – his second in injury time – to earn a draw for the Foxes, who then went on to claim a bonus point by winning the penalty shootout 7-6.