With five first team players helping Crystal Palace Under-23s to earn a point against Birmingham City this afternoon, assistant coach Darren Powell explained to Palace TV what the effect of professional involvement in a Development game is.
With Victor Camarasa, James McCarthy, Gary Cahill, Jairo Riedewald, Stephen Henderson and Sam Woods all featuring for the Eagles today, the Development squad was at risk of perhaps seeming dis-jointed with such a large batch of changes.
But, playing through challenging conditions in SE25, the home side excelled and peppered Birmingham's goal with a series of efforts throughout the 90 minutes.
"When the first team come, the standard is raised," Powell explained. "You see there’s a positive effect of it. The boys have to raise their standards in order to play along them. To be fair, the boys today reacted with the senior players in the team."
Though amongst a host of seasoned professionals, it was a 20-year-old Under-23 with a keen eye for striking who stood out. Gio McGregor netted Palace's single goal this afternoon with a sublimely curled effort 20 yards outside the box.
Earning a reputation for his eye-catching shots, McGregor is regularly encouraged by his coaching staff to try his luck. Powell said: "I’m always on him, we’re always on him in and around the box to get shots off - he’s a good finisher. We do a lot of that in training: second sessions in the afternoon where we take the boys out for some defending, crossing and shooting. We know he’s got the quality so we just tell him: ‘in and around the box, if you find space and time, just hit the target.’"
And reflecting on the game as a whole, Powell expressed his satisfaction with the entire team's performance: "There are some good, positive bits in it. I believe we created enough chances to win the game. Good little combinations in the final third. Just in the second half we lost our shape a bit and you can tell the players got a bit tired as well. Overall, we’ve got to take the positives which were we created enough chances to win the game."
Click here or 'Palace TV' in your app for full post-match reaction to today's game and keep an eye out for highlights!