AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor admits it will be difficult to give young players a chance this season as the Coasters look to win promotion from the National League North.
Challinor has always boasted a strong youth policy but is keen to go down the ‘tried and tested’ route as his side look to make it third time lucky in the hunt for league success.
Young midfielders Dion Charles and James Hardy bucked the trend last season making a big impression on the first team however Challinor admits it will take a similar calibre of player to grab his attention.
Challinor said: “There will be Academy and development squad lads that train with us during pre-season and I am always very open and honest with the lads about their opportunities and chances in the first team.
“We are a team that is looking to get out of this division and for young lads to break into the team then they would have to be very, very good.
“We do give opportunities to younger players, as we have proved with James Hardy coming into the squad last season and he really made his mark on the first team.
“So there are opportunities but in the main we need players that are tried and tested. They need to have the experience, ability and mentality to get us promoted out of this division.
Challinor added that it is a huge step up from development football and some of his young starlets may benefit from time out on loan.
“You have to be physically able to compete at this level because it’s a tough league. That doesn’t necessary mean in terms of strength or power, but certainly in terms of stamina and fitness.
“The gap between our development squad and first team is massive. We need to get the young lads out playing games before they can make the step up.
“We try to get them out to the Evo-Stik league to get some experience and, if possible, we would want them to have a season or two at that kind of level before they are ready for our first team, then we can see how they progress. That’s the way we like to do it here.
“Development football suits some players better because the physical demands are less than in our division. If we were to come up against an Under-21 squad from say a Championship club then we would be more than a match for them, as proved against Blackburn Rovers last season when we beat their development squad comfortably in pre-season.
“The ability of squads, technically and physically, at this level is well above where development squad football is at in the main and we can’t afford to take any risks this season.”