Motherwell boss Stuart Kettlewell will not fear testing his young players in the League Cup group stages after Lennon Miller became the club’s youngest ever scorer.
The 16-year-old was one of four teenagers fielded by the Steelmen, joining Luca Ross, Mark Ferrie and Ewan Wilson in kicking off the side’s season with a win at the League Two side.
Highly-rated Miller, the son of former Scotland international Lee, joined the Fir Park youth system at the age of seven and Kettlewell is determined to give his prospects a pathway to first team action.
“I believe in the dynamic of a first team, where you have experience, a middle group where it is guys towards the peak of their careers but I always think the energy, drive and desire comes from the young players at the bottom,” he said.
“I’m not scared to play young players. I think sometimes you see managers who are pent up that young players can make a mistake, but so can a 33-year-old.
“The fans that come and follow us here at Motherwell want to see their own players coming through and the emerging talent.
“It has always been my intention that there is a pathway here.”
Motherwell face Queen of the South at Palmerston in their second group G away game and will be hoping to avoid the fate of fellow Premiership outfits St Johnstone and St Mirren – both of whom slipped to defeats to lower league opposition at the weekend.
Marvin Bartley’s side have added plenty of Championship experience as they look to improve on last season’s mid-table finish in the third tier, but Kettlewell believes the early season fixtures can be a platform for his young stars to prove they can handle the game at a higher level.
“If they are good enough, If I feel they are going to offer something, then it is my duty to play them,” he said.
“But it is also about guiding them. You don’t just put somebody into a first team and tell them they are playing in a position.
“It’s my job to analyse post-match, show them where they were good, where they can improve, and put demands on them as well, make them robust enough to deal with that environment where, if they do make a mistake, they need to be able to deal with myself or a senior player maybe calling them out because that is part and parcel of the game.”
Kettlewell is optimistic he will be able to add to his squad before the weekend’s visit of Queen’s Park having brought strikers Jon Obika and Conor Wilkinson to the club to replace top scorer Kevin Van Veen.
But the ‘Well boss admitted he was targeting the right “kind of player” to fit in with his side, and will not make a signing simply to boost his ranks.
He said: “We’ll hopefully get one across the line.
“It just gives us another option in one area of the park and another good addition to the group.
“I would like to add one or two to wide positions and forward positions, but what I can do will depend on a number of factors.
“We’re always working towards having those two options in every area of the pitch.
“But they have to be the right character to fit in with the squad and offer us something. We won’t bring in players just for the sake of it.”