PHIL Parkinson reckons West Ham pair Josh Cullen and Reece Burke will benefit in the long run from a tough start to life at Wanderers.

The highly-rated Hammers youngsters have been benched for the last three games, including Saturday’s first win of the season against Sheffield Wednesday.

It has hardly been a comfortable introduction to the Macron for the two 21-year-olds, who both worked with Parkinson in League One at Bradford City.

But the Whites boss is confident they, and Wanderers’ own developing stars such as Jeff King, Jack Earing and Jake Turner, will have learned a lot from the last few weeks.

“One of the big talking points in British football, and certainly English football, is about young players getting the opportunities to play first team football at a young age,” he told The Bolton News. “You look at the top teams – Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United – are they going to throw youngsters in? Probably not too many because there is always that element of a learning curve for young players when they make a move into senior football.

“But we have been in a situation where we’ve had to put young players in. It’s great for their development and it will only improve it.

“We have played quite a few of our own youngsters, who have done well when they got some game-time this season, and they will go on and get more.

“It’s a tough industry whatever league you are in but those two have got experience, they have played quite a lot of league football and I think this last couple of months will only stand them in good stead.”

Wanderers got a confidence boost with Saturday’s win against Wednesday, which coincided with the return of Josh Vela to the first team for the first time since the opening day of the season.

Parkinson believes his reintroduction, alongside fit-again Sammy Ameobi, and others who are close to full fitness like Derik Osede, Will Buckley and Aaron Wilbraham, have given a natural impetus to day-to-day life at Lostock.

“When you get lads back on the training ground it does give the lads a lift – suddenly they are seeing some key people back around them and when they play on the training ground, when they get a goal it gives the place a buzz,” he said.

“I’ve certainly felt over the last couple of weeks that the buzz has returned and the standard of training has gone up a level. That is just the lads coming back in and I think Karl Henry has added to it as well.

“You look at the league table and it’s not what we want but I think we’re in the best place we possibly could be with all those things considered.”

Parkinson has also praised the determination within the camp not to let heads go down after a 12-game wait for a win.

Written off by many as relegation fodder, the Whites boss reckons the character of his squad will be a valuable commodity in the coming months.

“I think we have got the right types, and that’s vitally important,” he said. “They are a good set of lads who have stuck together.

“They enjoyed the good times of last year but they are working very, very hard to turn this around.

“I believe we will. But it will only come with hard work.”

Both Parkinson and centre-half David Wheater have been nominated for prizes at this year’s North West Football Awards.

Parkinson contests the Manager of the Year award with Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho and Blackpool’s Gary Bowyer.

Wheater is up for the League One Player of the Year award with Fleetwood’s Cian Bolger – an ex-Wanderer – Rochdale’s Callum Camps and Oldham’s Peter Clarke.