Bryan Hughes has challenged the young players who made their Wrexham debuts against Ayr United to now prove their consistency.
Hughes handed six players their Wrexham debuts – third-choice goalkeeper Dawid Szczepaniak and five youth-team players, including goalscorer Jake Bickerstaff.
And as a former Wrexham youth graduate himself, Hughes says those players now face an important test of their mindset as they return to training and youth team action.
“I felt it was a brave decision to play them on Saturday, but I stuck to my guns,” he said. “Recent results haven’t been going well for us so I could easily have played our strongest 11. But it’s a great opportunity for the players to start getting experience.
“It’s key to keep the youth and first team integrated, I’m big on that on the training ground as well. They really made an impact at the weekend.
“I think the biggest thing with any youth player going into a first-team environment, training and playing regularly, you’ve got to have that consistency and that confidence.
“You can see that, looking at the two that started – Max and Jake are both very confident and now it’s about adding that to their game and seeing if they can do that on a regular basis.
“They’ll be introduced more to training, which I always do with the youth players, and I’ll see how they get on.”
Hughes explained: “This is the time now where I’ll test them and see what their mindset is like. They’ve had a massive up in their lives, making their debuts, getting the win and for Jake scoring the goal.
“Now it’s about bringing them down and seeing if they still have those passions and that drive to really progress. They’re still learning, they’re learning every day and you never know – you might see them in the first team again this season.”
Hughes’ focus now turns back to the National League and Saturday’s televised match against Sutton United.
And the manager hopes the penalty shoot-out win against Ayr can serve as a springboard for an upturn in league form too.
“There were a lot of positives from the game,” he said. “Ayr United brought a strong team with them and a lot of their players have already featured numerous times this season and been successful.
“All the senior players gave me something to think about. The attitude was excellent. We’ll obviously have a look at it this week in training and make decisions at the end of the week ready for Sutton.
“I can only see us getting better and better. Beating Ayr on penalties gives us a confidence boost and we need to take that into our league form. It’s something we have to utilise and take forward.”
Hughes also played down the importance of the television cameras, admitting the club’s fanbase and expectations for the season mean every game can be considered a big one.
But the manager was keeping his plans for the game close to his chest, after fielding a three-man defence at the weekend.
“I want to try and keep things fresh,” he said. “We did work on a 3-4-3 in pre-season and, on Saturday, it was really due to personnel that we went to a 3-5-2 with the split strikers.
“I’ve obviously done my research on Sutton and we’ll put a formation out in accordance with that.
“We’re always on the big stage here. We’ve got a healthy fanbase and our expectations are really high so we don’t need the TV cameras to raise performances. We need to do that week in, week out.”
The match against Sutton United kicks off at 5.20pm at My Racecourse. For ticket information, check out our guide.