Steve Beaglehole handed under-21 debuts to 12 players yesterday as Northern Ireland fell to a single goal defeat against Poland.
It will be another 12-months before this crop of under-21 players really get their teeth into competitive action, but they will do so with plenty of experience behind them.
After losing out yesterday the Northern Ireland youngsters will now face host nation Ukraine in the third-place play-off in the Valeriy Lobanovskiy Memorial Tournament in Kiev.
With only one qualifying game for the 2009 European Championships remaining, Beaglehole has ditched the current batch of under-21 players in favour of those coming through at that level and although they lost yesterday assistant manager Alfie Wylie saw plenty of positives.
“With so many players playing their first game at this level and against a big, strong Polish team who are experienced under-21 internationals I thought we performed very well,” he said.
“It is a learning curve for our lads and between now and next September they will grow and develop at this level and there is enough ability to do well.”