Milton Keynes Dons Under-18’s suffered their second defeat of the season on Saturday, losing 5-0 against Dagenham & Redbridge.
Without Dele Alli and Mason Spence, who were called up to travel to Swindon with the first team, the Dons once again fielded a youthful side that consisted of only two second-year apprentices.
Despite the Dons defeat, Mike Dove was keen to re-iterate that it’s not the scoreline that is important but the development of the young Dons and preparing them for first team football in League One or above.
He said: “It’s important people understand that we’re in the development stage with this group. We only have four that you can class and ‘older ones’ and today we had five Under-16’s involved.
“We have a philosophy that we want to stick to. The most important thing is to teach these boys to a play a certain way so that they are ready for first team football.
Although not overly worried about the results, Director of Youth Dove is confident his side can start picking up points as the season progresses.
“We are playing against strong, organised teams and when you see the size of some of their players you’ll realise we are going to concede goals and it is slightly demoralising.
“We believe we can get results playing the way we do but it will take time and I’m confident in the long-term it will pay off.”
The Academy’s success is without question and it is highlighted by current Under-18’s Spence, Alli and Brendan Galloway all appearing on the bench for the first team in the League and Cup this month with the latter two having been away with England Under-17s on the recent Nordic Tournament.
And this is something that pleases Dove who has received compliments from elsewhere regarding his group of youngsters.
“We’ve had three boys involved with the first-team already this season and two of them have been away with England in Brendan and Dele. We also have Ben Tilney, an Under-16 who linked up with England last week for a training camp.
“I was speaking to Kenny Swain the England Under-16 and 17 coach and he was telling me the potential he sees in Ben Tilney, Dele Alli and Brendan Galloway which is nice.”
Dove also wanted to praise his staff for their hard work and commitment to the task.
“We have a brand new physio team, a new fitness coach and analyst for this season. I’d just like to give them all a big thank you as well as Ben, Dan and Lisa for their continued hard work in helping us develop this group of players."