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Gavin Gunning excited to challenge Swindon Town academy duo

Joel McGregor was handed his first league start for the club against Walsall on Tuesday night, a game which also saw 16-year-old Harley Hunt get his first exposure to first-team football off the bench following an injury to Tom Brewitt.

Swindon now head to Grimsby this weekend, and with the Mariners still needing something from the game to guarantee survival, Gunning is excited to have the chance to challenge the young duo.

He said: “For us, it is about performance and looking towards next season now, we have seen with the two young lads getting game time, I think that was key in looking towards the future of the club.

“Maybe we can try and see how they deal with the scenario of a tough away game.

“I haven’t picked the team yet, but I 100 per cent want to get those guys some minutes in that scenario.

“It is about backing up Tuesday and seeing how different people perform, you might get thrown in a different position to test you there or a younger kid getting thrown in at the deep end to see if he can swim.

“For me, the two boys were fantastic the other night, considering Harley is 16 that is just mental and Joel was one of our better performers.

“I knew they were good, but it was surprising how well they took to it.”

The academy duo are still getting their first taste of men’s football and Gunning is planning to help continue their development in these remaining two games.

He said: “It is tough because you might come in and have a great game and then have a stinker in the next one.

“It is important as a coach not to bin them then, you have to stick by them because you have seen what they have got, you have got to work with that and help bring them there.

“They are still kids who haven’t played League Two, they might get bullied by a striker or if Joel plays wide he might get on the wrong side and someone gets in and then they score.

“But that is a good thing because then it is about what your character is like and how you learn from it because these guys are going to have good futures.”



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