Fulham manager Slavisa Jakanovic has heaped praise on 16-year-old full-back Ryan Sessegnon, challenging him and other talented youngsters to break into his first-team this season.
The Whites boss gave four academy graduates their senior debuts in a 3-2 win over Leyton Orient in the League Cup first round, including Sessegnon and goalscorer Dennis Adeniran.
Jokanovic says he has been impressed with his academy players in pre-season and says it is up to them to prove they can cut it at senior level.
“The young players are a great project of the football club and they have been knocking on the door,” he said.
“It is just a question of whether they are going to push the door open into professional football life.
“Dennis scored and Ryan is a talented boy. He [Sessegnon] is a great prospect and I think he can be used in this year’s competition, and maybe all competitions.
“But we have to assess and help him. He is competing against other players.”
Jokanovic warned against expecting too much too soon from Sessegnon, who last season was linked with a number of Premier League clubs including Arsenal.
He said: “He is still a boy and needs to grow up. We need to be careful with him. He will be an important player for the future of English football in general but he needs time.”
Despite conceding twice in the second half to make the result a lot tighter than it might have been, Jokanovic was happy with the victory, having made 11 changes from the side which beat Newcastle on Friday.
He added: “In my mind I have some conclusions from what I’ve seen and it was an interesting test for us.
“They showed great quality tonight and played a good game for many minutes until they put us in trouble.”