WEDNESDAY night’s Trophy defeat to West Ham United under-21s was a night to forget for Newport County AFC manager Michael Flynn but the big positive was the experience gained by some of the club’s young stars.

Dom Jefferies, Elis Watts, Ioan Evans and Ryan Hillier all made their competitive debuts for County, while Lewis Collins scored his first goal in senior football.

Striker Hillier also grabbed a goal after replacing the injured Tristan Abrahams as the Exiles roared into a 4-1 half-time lead before going on to lose an incredible game 5-4.

And, despite giving the ball away for the Hammers’ fourth goal, midfielder Jefferies was named man of the match by the sponsors after an impressive display.

The talented teenager also caught the eye in pre-season for County and Flynn was pleased with his contribution.

The Exiles boss rewarded Jefferies with a first-team squad number and challenged him to keep on improving to force his way into the reckoning in League Two.

South Wales Argus:

“He’s done quite well,” said Flynn when asked about Jefferies (above, centre) last month.

“He’s got a lot to improve on, but he’s showing the right attitude and that’s why we gave him a squad number.

“He’s a midfielder but he’s played at right wing-back [in pre-season] and he did quite well there.

“He’s got a bit of a rangy stride, which helps him out, and he’s a good finisher because he took his goal very well [in a friendly against Cwmbran Celtic].

"It’s down to him now," he added.

“People say to me about playing youngsters from the academy, but I’m not going to play anybody who doesn’t deserve it or who isn’t good enough.

“Why would I do that? If they deserve it, they’ll train with us, I’ll have a look at them and they’ll get an opportunity. But they’ve got a long way to go.”

Winger Collins came off the bench to make his EFL debut against Crewe Alexandra last month and also got a few minutes against West Ham in the Carabao Cup but Jefferies has yet to feature in the matchday squad in the league.

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