Boss John Gregory has reassured Hiram Boateng he still has a big part to play for Crawley this season despite having his Football League debut cut short on Tuesday.
The 18-year-old midfielder, who is on loan from Crystal Palace, was taken off at half-time in the 1-1 draw with Stevenage after struggling to adapt to the pace of the game.
It was only Boateng’s third first team appearance having featured twice for Palace in the FA Cup and Gregory knows from experience how hard it is to be thrown in at the deep end as a young player.
Gregory said: “Nothing prepares you for your first game at a professional level. I remember my debut (for Northampton) against Gillingham on January 6 1973. I was ready to come off by half-time as I had nothing left.
“I was relatively fit but I had just burnt out. I played seven or eight games that year and in the second half I had nothing left at all so I know how he feels.
“But he will be fine. Boats has had 45 minutes now and when he goes back in next time he will have a totally different picture of what it is all about.
“It is not like academy football and when you’ve done something for two years in the same manner and you’ve suddenly got to change it can be very difficult. He’s got a half under his belt now and will be a little bit more prepared when he gets another chance.”