Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has admitted that he cannot play his youngsters in the Premier League every week.
The German coach has warned against placing too much expectation on his young stars after a number impressed in the 3-0 FA Cup third-round replay win over Exeter on Wednesday night.
Sheyi Ojo netted with a brilliant individual effort and Joao Carlos Teixeira also scored – both on their Anfield debuts after Joe Allen, one of three experienced players in the side, had put them ahead in the first half.
The likes of Cameron Brannagan and Brad Smith also impressed but Klopp insists it is too early to be pushing them for full first-team involvement, because mistakes were evident.
“It is a long way for these young boys but they showed what they are already able to do and what they have to learn,” he said.
“If everyone stays cool… It is not protecting them but giving the lads time to develop.
“Tonight was a good moment, there were a few things which were impressive but a lot of things to learn.
“The target at the end of the road has to be [playing for] Liverpool FC in the Premier League and for this you have to be ready.
“We cannot bring them all in every week in the Premier League.
“A few months ago when I said we need to have all our best players here (Ryan) Kent, Ojo, (Kevin) Stewart and Tiago (Ilori) were on loan.”
Another positive on the night was the return of Scouser Jon Flanagan 619 days after his last appearance having finally recovered from two knee operations.
He was given a warm welcome by Anfield and that pleased Klopp.
“When he came in it was a great moment after this long time,” he said.
“I’ve not had him too often in training because we need to be careful with him.
“It was a real emotional moment when everyone stood up and clapped. I don’t think anyone deserved it more than him. It is such an unbelievably long time he was injured but he has never been in a bad mood.
“Hopefully now it goes on and we have to see how he feels tomorrow. It was one of the best pieces of news we could get.”
On the result itself Klopp added: “I could see the lads enjoyed it. They worked hard, created chances and scored wonderful goals.
“They made mistakes but reacted the right way. First half they (Exeter) were really experienced so it was really hard work but I was pleased with the performance.
“A few weeks ago I couldn’t think I would enjoy a rematch in the FA Cup but I did.”
Exeter boss Paul Tisdale had mixed emotions about the game.
“When I wake up tomorrow and look back it will have been an interesting cup run but I guess we had our chance a week ago when we were 2-1 up with 15 minutes to go,” he said.
“I feel disappointed because I want to win games no matter how big the ask is and you try to convince your team there is a way to win the game.
“Generally I am very proud of the club and we had one or two players who did themselves proud on the pitch also.”