Rotherham United Lead Professional Development Coach Rob Poulter expressed his delight at the attitude and commitment the Academy players have shown, since the turn of the year.
Ahead of Christmas, the Millers pushed Arsenal all the way in the third round of the FA Youth Cup and earned a credible 1-1 draw at Mansfield Town three days later.
The young guns have had their fixture schedule disrupted courtesy of some adverse weather conditions, but still managed to record a victory at table-topping Scunthorpe in January, a result which pleased Poulter.
“We’ve not had many games since Christmas because, believe it or not, the weather has cancelled quite a few games,” Poulter told Rotherham’s New Yorker.
“We returned to action a couple of weeks ago against Scunthorpe United and won 1-0, which was a great result because they were sitting top of the league and had won five straight games at the time.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we were excellent. The lads came back in really good shape after Christmas and we feel like we’re in a great place, it has just been frustrating that we’ve not been able to play as much as we’d have liked and we understand the situation.
“We pushed Arsenal all the way just before Christmas and then played Mansfield on the Saturday. The lads were out on their feet after everything they put in against Arsenal, but still managed to draw which was pleasing in the end.
“We can look back on the Arsenal performance with a lot of pride, even though we didn’t get the result we wanted, it was a proud night and I feel like we’ve really took that on since then.”
With the country currently in the middle of the third national lockdown, grassroots football has once again at a standstill.
Despite the pause on ‘non-elite’ sport, under-18s football has been allowed to continue, a privilege which Poulter insists is not been taken for granted by anyone .
“Attitude is something I would expect to be spot on and it is. We’re fortunate that we haven’t been locked down and that under 18s football is still able to go ahead and we’ve drove that message home to the lads really,” Poulter explained.
“You just have to look at the fans of this club, they are not getting to see the team they support play week in week out like they love, so we’ve drove that message home to say how much of a privileged position they are in.
“We’ve mentioned that quite a lot, and we know how important it is to be able to pull on that shirt and represent the football club during these times in particular.”