Experienced players have helped Norwich City U23s starlets to progress
- Credit: JASON DAWSON/JASONPIX
Victory over Valencia has continued an upturn in fortunes for Norwich City Under-23s, as increasing game-time alongside senior players continues to benefit the Canaries' youngsters.
First-team players including Alex Pritchard, Graham Dorrans and Sebastien Bassong helped City's U23s to beat the Spanish club's development side 2-0 in a Premier League International Cup group game on Tuesday night.
An opening goal from striker Carlton Morris was added to by an own goal forced by Josh Murphy – but it was an excellent performance from 30-year-old keeper Paul Jones which helped keep hold of the win.
'We knew they were going to be good, they play in the Spanish B league and had 21- and 22-year-olds, and brought on a couple of older ones as well,' U23s coach Dmitri Halajko said.
'You don't play for Valencia and not be technically good and tactically astute so we knew it was going to be tough no matter what team we put out.
'They are a Champions League club and one of the biggest in Spain, so we had to be at our best to get something out of it.'
Amongst the senior players were young defenders Michee Efete and Ben Godfrey, both deployed at full-back and benefiting from the experience of Jones, Bassong and Michael Turner during a second-half onslaught from Valencia.
'You could hear Michael and Seb were always giving them advice constantly and that is invaluable experience for them, to be playing alongside experienced pros and having them talking you through the games,' Halajko continued.
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'That's better than any coaching session you can give, so that was great to have those pros to play alongside but even better that they passed on their advice.'
The victory followed up an impressive 6-1 win against the first team of Peterborough in the Checkatrade Trophy for the U23s, having lost their opening three games in Division Two of Premier League Two.
Now Halajko wants to see his squad get some league points on the board, starting away at Blackburn Rovers on Monday.
'Off to Blackburn in Monday's game and we'll be looking for a win,' he added. 'It's a long trip but the players will be prepared properly, they'll get an overnight stay.
'We'll train the day before and stay up there to go up there and try to get that win. The cup competitions have been positive but we need to go up there and get some points on the board.'
The Premier League International Cup campaign continues with the visit of Celtic U23s on Wednesday, November 16 and Aston Villa U23s on Monday, December 5.
'Three points sets us up now, get a win out of the next one and we'd certainly be through,' Halajko said.
'Celtic's next, that'll be tough, we're hoping for a big crowd at that one, we expect that to be a really feisty game because it's more of a British rivalry.'