Mark Cooper lauded Forest Green’s academy youngsters as his side came out as comfortable winners against West Brom U21s, writes Sam Wiles.

Cooper’s side now sits in second place in Group M of the Football League trophy as they convincingly beat West Brom U21s 3-0 on Tuesday night.

It was a historic night for Forest Green as they fielded Jack Carter who, at just 15 years of age, is the youngest player to represent Rovers in EFL competition.

Fellow 15-year-old Fin Bell was also handed his first team debut as he replaced Josh March in the final 10 minutes.

Cooper praised Carter and the younger players who have taken the step up to the first team and the academy that has helped grow them.

Speaking to BBC Radio Gloucestershire, he said: “I think you see now the progression of the academy and that we’re trying to push the young boys through.

“We have a way that we want to coach and a way that we want to do things and that starts from the bottom all the way to the top.

“We’ve got a real pathway now and we’ve got that real sort of synergy, people want to work together and try and get the young boys through.

“Fin and Jack coming into the team at 15 shows real progress.”

Jake Young shined for Rovers and scored the third from distance as he caught Cooper’s eye and he believes the 19-year-old is a real talent.

Speaking on the young forward, he said: “He’s got fantastic ability, a rocket in his right foot and he’s electrically quick.

“We’ve just got to get him to run now and he’d be the complete package.

“He’s a work in progress but he’s got real quality.”

Elliot Whitehouse made his return to the starting 11 after coming back from suspension and has certainly helped bolster Cooper’s midfield options.

“Tactically he gets what we want and I don’t have to worry too much about him when he’s on the pitch,” said Cooper. “Him and Taylor Allen were really solid out there and both did really well.”

As well as being impressed by his side’s showing, Cooper couldn’t help but praise the immaculate condition of the New Lawn pitch.

He said: “The biggest bonus for me tonight was the pitch. I thought the pitch, considering the amount of rain we’ve had, was outstanding on Saturday and outstanding tonight. We wouldn’t have had those games on last year.

“If we want to do what we want to do the pitch has to be really good but with the rain we’ve had our groundsman deserve a lot of credit for getting it in that condition.”

Forest Green next face rivals Swindon in the Football League Trophy and could move top of Group M if results go their way. Before that however, Rovers travel to Scunthorpe next in the league as they look to carry forward the momentum this win will give them.