DAVID Lee admits a certain amount of experimentation will be necessary as he attempts to piece together another successful development squad.

Topping last season’s achievements will be tough for the former Burnden Park favourite, whose side scooped both the northern and national league titles back in May.

But a first step was taken on Tuesday night at Atherton Colls with a side patched together with six contracted players, seven trialists and a smattering of players from the Under-18s and u16s.

Throwing so many different players into the melting pot at once represents a challenge for Lee, who has only one more friendly match at Clitheroe between now and the start of the season.

The amount of tactical information which can be thrown at a group of players who, in the main, only met each other before kick-off is minimal.

Lee is confident, however, that he will find the right mix – and picked out the performances of two of his trialists, Liam Collings and Dan Wright, as ones which especially pleased him at the Kensite Stadium.

“It’s a blend,” he told The Bolton News. “I think you learn more in the games because that’s when the decisions have to be made – whether to receive it, whether to run. You can do all the training you want but you have to put them in an environment where there is a little bit of pressure. That’s when you find out which ones make the right decisions.

“As a coach you’ve got to sometimes just take a backwards step and let the players express themselves. I don’t think we put too many demands on them (at Colls), other than working hard in and out of possession.

“You look for that intelligence in the players but you have to give them a bit of freedom.”

Collings – a former Fleetwood Town youth teamer – and Wright – once on the books at South Shields and Sunderland – formed a decent midfield pairing at Atherton and could certainly warrant another look.

The responsibility for future additions to the squad, however, will rest on the shoulders of Chris Johnson, the newly-appointed Under-18s and Under-23s recruitment officer who will work with Lee and Jimmy Phillips at Lostock.

Lee expects another two or three trialists to feature in the Clitheroe game on July 18, and will wait and see on how much involvement Jack Earing, Jake Turner, Liam Edwards and Connor Hall get at senior level before mapping out his team to head into the regular season.

“I think Chris Johnson is working hard to bring in quality players and build a squad of Under-23s who are eventually going to touch the first team because that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

“It is early days and that’s why we’re bringing trialists in to play in games and take a good look at them. Hopefully one or two come through and we can put them into the Under-23s and we can force them into a first-team environment.”

Lee reckons his young side learned a few lessons against a stronger, more mature Colls outfit on Tuesday.

“We can’t make excuses but the pitch was very bobbly and I think it was pleasing the players were brave and they showed they wanted the ball. They were very positive,” he said.

“Atherton are a big, physical team so it was always going to be a test for our lads but it was important we got some minutes into them, so overall I’m really pleased.

“From our perspective we learned we have got to move the ball quicker and not dwell on it too much. Once or twice they got a good clattering.

“It’s experience for them. A few of the lads are new into the club, alongside the trialists as well, so it’s a blend. I think they did okay.”