ROB Small believes giving up-and-coming youngsters a chance in the Isthmian Premier League with Bowers & Pitsea is sending out a message.

Small named a youthful substitutes bench for the 1-0 defeat at Leatherhead last time out, with promising starlets George Wind, Tyrone Baker and Max Harbrow getting a chance to shine after entering the fray.

And Small has challenged the teenagers to take the opportunities coming their way with both hands.

“We had some injuries as well as David Knight being at his brother’s wedding and Brad Warner going on a pre-booked holiday,” said the Bowers chief.

“That resulted in us finding ourselves quite short on numbers and we stuck to our principles of turning to youth.

“Some of the young kids got the chance to be on the pitch, which is brilliant for their development and sends out a message that we give youngsters an opportunity at Bowers.

“The kids should be proud of getting involved in a first team Isthmian Premier League match and it’s up to them to show me why they ought to be in the squad on a regular basis.

“John Guyton has done a fantastic job with the under-23s and it was a pleasing moment for him as well.”

Bowers are back in action tonight, with Small’s side making the trip to Cray Wanderers.

Cray go into the clash following a 1-1 draw with East Thurrock United at the weekend.

Although Billy Crook put John Coventry’s Rocks ahead soon after the interval, Cray grabbed a share of the spoils thanks to Tom Murphy finding a leveller.

And Small has been handed a fitness boost ahead of the journey to Hayes Lane.

“Brad and David are back and available for selection,” added Small.

“Ryan Sammons is also likely to be back on the bench after some time on the sidelines with an injury.

“We are going into the game with more first team numbers than we had at Leatherhead.”

Although Bowers are going into tonight’s encounter following a defeat at Leatherhead, Small believes his side deserved something from the game.

“It was a difficult game and we had a lot of bodies missing,” admitted Small.

“We came up a bit short on the day, but I don’t think we deserved to lose.

“I don’t necessarily think we should have won the game, but a point would have probably been fair.

“We were unlucky to get nothing from the game.”