Middlesbrough U21 v Villa U21: Cowans - Kids must handle pressure
Gordon Cowans insists Villa's young guns must start coping better under pressure as they look to bounce back from last week's disappointing display at Fulham.
The boys in claret and blue endured a frustrating evening at Hinckley last Monday, going down 2-0 to the Cottagers.
But Cowans' team have the opportunity to make amends tonight at Boro's Riverside Stadium [ko 7pm].
Coach Cowans admits his team lacked an attacking spark in their last outing.
And he believes his players need to show they are capable of dealing with high-pressure situations.
"We need a response at Middlesbrough and the lads have got to be able to handle the pressure," said Cowans.
"You've got to be able to be able to handle these situations because you will come to a stage in your career where you are playing in front of 40,000.
"We never created anything against Fulham - we maybe had two shots in the whole game which is nowhere near enough.
"Fulham were miles better than us and I was really disappointed with the performance."
Cowans said the absence of prolific striker Michael Drennan through injury was a big factor in the Fulham clash.
"Obviously it makes a difference when you've got a centre forward," he added.
"We had Graham Burke playing up front and he did a decent job and got hold of the ball at times but we never got people up there to support him.
"What we didn't do is get in behind them and when you've got people like Mikey Drennan pulling off shoulders it gives you different options to stretch the game out and hurt them a little bit."
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