PHIL Parkinson has paid tribute to his gutsy youngsters even after a heavy defeat at Tranmere Rovers.

The Wanderers boss wrote personally to the EFL to voice his concerns about the welfare of several Under-18s players who were playing their third game in seven days at Prenton Park.

His fears were in some way legitimised as Bolton slumped to a 5-0 loss, making it 10 goals shipped in their last two games.

Parkinson said his staff and players had been “hung out to dry” by the EFL – who insisted the game go ahead – and the ongoing delay in the sale of the club, which has prevented him from adding to the squad.

With no scope for new signings before tomorrow night’s game against Doncaster, Bolton may have to ask their young charges to go again. Parkinson has reiterated his concern that the youngest players in his squad risk injury if they are continually pushed to the limit.

“I have to praise these young lads because they have shown so much heart,” he told The Bolton News.

“I just said to Eddie Brown that academy players can sometimes be a bit soft, and you have reservations in playing them, you have to protect them.

“But to come through these games and show the resilience they have done, the running power they have shown, you have to give them great credit.

“But as I have said many times in my time at Bolton Wanderers when people have been pushing for me to play the kids in the team, you have to be careful with them. You have to play them when they are ready, put them in at the right time, bring them off when they are ready.

“You look back at Luca Connell last season – you just have to recognise that the demands of league football are so far above what they are used to in terms of the Under-18s and Under-23s.

“A lot of these boys haven’t even played Under-23s.”

Parkinson had no qualms with defeat at Tranmere but believes striker Morgan Ferrier should have been sent off for a first-half lunge on Harry Brockbank.

“It was a tackle which if you’d seen on the Premier League stage, with all the angles and the cameras, it’s a straight red.

“It was a dangerous tackle. But I can see Micky Mellon has looked at this and made sure Tranmere went as big and as strong as they possibly can. We are going to bully this young team.

“For a large part of the first half I thought we stood up to it very well, but obviously the power of the team – the men in their team – are too much in the end.

“Different teams play different ways but they identified what they wanted to do and that’s what football management is all about, asking how you are going to get the best of this team.”