The kids are alright for Tony Pulis after his Middlesbrough side twice battled from a goal down to draw 2-2 before beating Preston on penalties to reach the Carabao Cup fourth round.
Goals from Callum Robinson and Tom Barkhuizen twice put the home side ahead at Deepdale but Boro responded in kind, Ashley Fletcher and Marcus Tavernier levelling up in each half.
Missed spot-kicks from Robinson and Graham Burke saw the visitors through 4-3 on penalties, leaving boss Pulis praising the youngsters after making 11 changes from the weekend.
“I thought it was a really good performance. The first team have done really well this season, they have been pretty consistent since the season started so there haven’t been many changes,” he said.
“So there’s a lot of senior players who haven’t had a game, then you go on to the kids and we’ve had four kids in the starting XI and six on the bench.
“We’ve got 10 kids that have come through the academy system that have been involved which I think is fabulous for the club.
“It’s great for the area, it shows that the people that are doing the job in the academy are doing things the right way.
“We’re trying stick an identity on the football team, I think it’s important that football clubs have identities and one of the main ones is every game we play, if we put the shirt on we work really hard.”
To lead twice before losing proved a bitter pill to swallow for Preston manager Alex Neil against Championship rivals, though the performance has left him with plenty of positives with the season ahead.
“I thought we played well. We created more than enough opportunities to win the game, hopefully, we take this performance and try to build on it on Saturday,” he said.
“We haven’t got a big target to hit the ball up to, so we have to take risks at the back. It forces us to play in a certain style which can make you vulnerable.
“We just need to learn when to play, and when to keep the ball. But we have to play our way out of trouble, because just banging the ball is not going to help us.
“I thought Callum (Robinson) was outstanding, he’s becoming an excellent player. He’s progressing so much, and he’s got four goals in five games now. He’s just a good player.”