MANAGER Carl Heeley believes Worcester City's Worcestershire FA Senior Cup semi-final defeat to Redditch United will hold the club's youngsters in good stead.
A team made up primarily of City's academy players went down 2-0 against the Reds at the Valley Stadium on Tuesday.
Among the teenagers on show were defenders Jack Brighton and Jamie Smith, midfield duo Mark Crisp and Jacob Hobbis and striker James Lemon.
They were supported by first-teamers Ethan Moore and Aaron Williams, while veteran centre-half Stuart Whitehead also started.
Winger Danny Edwards, who has been out for a year with a knee injury, appeared as a second-half substitute.
"There's only one way to find out if the lads are good enough and that's to give them an opportunity to play," said Heeley, who missed the game because of business commitments.
"I heard they acquitted themselves well in some cases but it's such a huge jump and there's no substitute for them than playing games.
"If you look at the fit players available to us, it doesn't take much working out that if we had picked up any injuries by playing our strongest side it would have been catastrophic.
"People always say local youngsters don't get a chance. They have had their chance now but it's pointless us having academies if they don't produce players for the first team."
Second-half strikes from Omari Sterling-James and former Worcester player Ashley Sammons booked Southern League Premier Division outfit Redditch a final place against Evesham United.
City team: Preston; Brighton (Waldron 55), Jamie Smith, Josh Smith, Whitehead, Crisp, Hobbis (Sousa 63), A Williams, Moore, Lemon, D Williams (Edwards 70). Subs not used: Seidon, Finch.