Academy

Alan Neilson: The Reading challenge was good for our defensive unit

Under-23s lead coach Alan Neilson hopes his side's defenders learn from their 3-2 Premier League Cup defeat to Reading on Monday afternoon.

The Canaries were put to the sword by Royals striker Jahmari Clarke, who fired a hat-trick to succumb Neilson's men to defeat at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

Neilson admitted the physicality of Clarke gave his young defenders plenty to ponder and he hopes they'll be better for the experience.

"We should have done a lot better with the goals we conceded," he said to canaries.co.uk.

"The goals were down to mistakes from our defensive players. Their lad scored a hat-trick and he was big and strong, so it'll be a good lesson for our guys, particularly (Under-18s defender) Lewis Shipley who came into the team.

"We actually played out from the back quite well but knew at half-time our quality at the top end of the pitch needed to be better. We came out well in the second-half but we conceded two poor goals.

"We got back in the game through Abu (Kamara - pictured below) but it was just too late.

https://media-cdn.incrowdsports.com/e5898b3c-8115-4fa4-bbac-bf10445f960f.jpg?crop=1088:611:nowe:233:92

"We changed formation for the match (to a back three) and against category one academies, you know if you make mistakes, you'll concede goals.

"But the lads will learn from it. Overall, it was a good test for them."

At the top end of the pitch, the Under-23s are in the middle of a purple patch, with frontmen Kamara and Tom Dickson-Peters notching 15 goals between them across Premier League 2 and the Premier League Cup so far.

Both were on the scoresheet against Reading, but Neilson is tasking the duo to be even more clinical.

"They probably could have scored even more yesterday!" he added. "They took their chances really well, Abu had a great chance shortly after half-time as well.

"They're full of confidence at the moment, all our our attacking lads are. It's good to see but they know they can improve even more."

The Canaries are back in action on Friday when they visit Burnley in Premier League 2 and Neilson believes the quick turnaround will be positive as they look to move on from Monday's cup defeat.

"It's all about development at this level and the quick turnaround is important for the players. They have to learn how to cope with it, recharge and be ready to go again.

"We'll look at things we need to improve on this week and be prepared for the game on Friday."

Catch updates of Friday's match against Burnley (1pm KO) at our dedicated academy Twitter account.

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