Rotherham United Academy Manager Richard Hairyes has heaped praise on the club’s U18s for their efforts to reach the Northern area final of the Youth Alliance Cup.
The club’s youngsters saw off the challenge of Lincoln City after going 1-0 down in the semi-final to book a date against Mansfield Town with the winner set to lock horns with MK Dons in late April.
The youth team, who have found results difficult to come by in their league campaign as a result of a number of injuries to key players, have been rewarded for their determination with a cup showpiece which Hairyes thinks they can learn a lot from.
"It is massive for the lads and for the club to be reaching finals in any competition,” he told www.themillers.co.uk.
"It gives everyone something to look forward to and puts a smile on people's faces.
"It is about development but once you get to the 16/17 age groups they do need to understand the importance of trying to get results. If they do get into that first team environment, three points on a Saturday is the main thing that matters.
"To have a proper competitive element to these games and to have an opportunity to push forward on that front is a really useful exercise in these lads' development.”
The Millers reached the national final of this competition recently when they were narrowly 1-0 beaten by AFC Wimbledon at AESSEAL New York Stadium in 2020.
Hairyes is hoping that his side are able to once again compete in the national final this time around and is excited about the possibility of a number of his key players returning to action in time to potentially feature against Mansfield Town.
"I think I'm right in saying that this is the second time in three years now in which we have reached the Northern area final, which is a testament to the work of everyone involved,” he added.
"The lads are in a good place and excited about it. Fingers crossed we have a fully fit side because we have Joel Holvey and Ben Hatton close to returning.
“Kanye is also just back in training and they are three massive players for us, so hopefully we can field our best side when we play Mansfield."
A date for the fixture against the Stags is yet to be finalised with the two clubs currently in discussions.