Ryan Watson felt Barnet’s youngsters handled Championship opponents Norwich City "brilliantly" and predicts they will be pushing for the first team soon.
Martin Allen included ten academy products in his matchday squad of 18 for Tuesday night’s EFL Checkatrade Trophy clash with the Canaries, handing Jack Taylor his full Barnet debut in the centre of midfield.
The dismissal of Bees skipper Bondz N’Gala shortly after the half-hour mark changed a game which was, at the time, even and goalless. With Barnet a man short the Canaries took full advantage to win 5-0 with Josh Murphy bagging a hat-trick.
But the upside for all involved was the number of homegrown players who played and Watson, a summer signing from Leicester City, was among those impressed by the talent on show.
"There are a lot of positives to take from the game," he said. "We had a lot of young players making their debuts and I thought everyone did well.
"I thought all the young boys did brilliantly, including Jack Taylor and Nana Kyei alongside me. If they keep playing like that they will get into the senior squad.
"It’s good to play with the young lads and I try to help them as much as I can and it’s the same for all of the boys.
"It was a good test. We will only get better by playing against people like that and testing ourselves. We will look back and there is a lot to learn from the game."
The 23-year-old added: "It became a bit more difficult when we had Bondz sent off but we still tried to play the game in the right way and stayed positive.
"Norwich had some quality players playing but we matched them and early on and we were the better side.
"It was a bit frustrating when we went down to ten men because it meant we couldn’t do the things we wanted to. But there are still a lot of positives from the game."
Watson was one of the Bees’ first summer additions and has been a regular in Allen’s side already, making nine appearances in all competitions.
"I am really enjoying it down here," said the Crewe-born playmaker. "The results haven’t been what we would have hoped for lately but we are working hard and the results will come because it’s a great group of lads and, as we showed tonight, the squad has got some real quality.
"We just need to start finishing our chances off and stay positive and we will get there."
Allen, who was Leicester City boss in 2007, returned to his former club for the third time in 2016 to sign Watson who followed the captures of James Pearson and Alie Sesay from the Foxes in January.
Explaining his switch to The Hive, Watson said: "Martin Allen came to watch me in a few games at the end of last season at Leicester City.
"I was out of contract and when I came down to speak to him it was positive and he made me want to join the club. He is a good character and I am enjoying working with him."