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Mick McCarthy reveals how Cardiff City young guns have been ‘slapping’ senior stars in training games and why he won’t dip into free transfer market

Cardiff City boss Mick McCarthy says he’s fully focused on continuing to develop his young stars and is unlikely to dip into the free transfer market.

Several of the club’s brightest academy products have made their mark on the first team in recent weeks, with Sam Bowen and Kieron Evans following on from the successful breakthroughs of Rubin Colwill, Mark Harris and Joel Bagan this season.

As well as injuries to key players, the club’s youngsters have had a clearer road to the first team due to a difficult transfer window that saw more outgoings than arrivals this summer.

The window might be shut, but there are still several free agents out there looking for new clubs.

Arch rivals Swansea City have already admitted they are monitoring the situation, having snapped up former Celtic star Olivier Ntcham.

But McCarthy, in contrast, is set to keep the belief with his highly-rated batch of home-grown starlets.

Asked if he might be tempted to look at any free agents, McCarthy replied: “Not at the moment. I don’t want to bring people in for them to not be playing.

“I think we’ve also got some good youngsters, who in this moment in time are doing a good job.

“If we’re going to do that then we’ve got to continue to trust them.”

While continuing to impress on the pitch, the defeat at Coventry aside, City’s youngsters are also making a real mark on the training ground, with the players taking part in ‘young v old’ matches every Friday.

“It’s good actually because you do see what the younger ones are made of,” McCarthy continued.

“The younger ones have been slapping them recently too.

“The older ones then last time won the game, and it was interesting to see the younger ones actually, after they’d been enjoying these wins.

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“They went 1-0 up, then 2-1 down, then 3-1 down and the younger ones unravelled a bit. They lost their discipline a bit. The older ones beat them 5-2. That’s a good learning curve for them. You come out and you win your last three, and before the game the older ones had a bit of a huddle, messing about.

“They want to win. When the oldies had the game by the scruff of the neck at 3-1, they were on top. The youngsters found it tough. I said that it was a big learning curve for them.”

Wednesday night’s defeat at the hands of the Sky Blues was a similar learning curve, with the likes of Colwill and Harris struggling to find the sort of form that has driven their meteoric rise through the ranks.

“You see the ups and downs of being a youngster. Rubin comes on and scores two against Nottingham Forest, and then it’s a tough one for him,” McCarthy added.

“Sunday takes an emotional toll. It’s not going to be the same. The opposition are ready for you now. But he’s going to have a really good future for us. Same with Sparky.”

McCarthy clearly isn’t the only one excited by the standard of players coming through the ranks.

Marlon Pack has also been impressed with what he’s seen, and insists he’s ready to step up and offer guidance to his younger team-mates when needed.

And, after being brought back down to earth with an off-colour showing at Coventry, Pack has backed Wales international Colwill to bounce back stronger over the coming weeks.

“It was a good test of their character,” he said.

“In the Championship, you can’t turn up and score two goals and then the next game turn up and score two goals. It doesn’t work like that. For Rubin, it’ll be a good learning curve for him.

“Rubin undoubtedly has a lot of ability and is one of the best I’ve worked with at his age. He’s level-headed. He will learn from it.

“No doubt it’ll give a bit of steel to their characters.”

Bowen is another player to have clearly caught the eye of Pack, who says he’s well aware of his responsibilities as an experienced member of the dressing room in helping to develop the youngsters coming through.

“Bows has been one that from the end of last year to this year has really kicked on. It’s about unlocking that potential. In training he’s been brilliant.

“When we do young vs old in training every Friday he’s probably been their standout player. The intensity, the way he presses. He’s got a platform now.

“He needs to play some football and he might get an opportunity, but he’s another one that me, Will, Rallsy will get around because we’ve been there. These young lads have a willingness to learn and take advice. They have the right attitude to have a good career.”

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