KEITH Hill has issued a damning verdict on the under-23 team’s contribution to Bolton Wanderers this season.

The Whites were forced to draft in a raft of youngsters to fulfil their League One fixtures in this campaign’s early stages, but Hill admits the development side have been producing below-par performances and results.

Should the members of the youth squad – or fringe players turning out for the u23s – want to prove they should be making the step up to first-team action, the manager admits there is much improvement needed.

“There’s no quick replacement in the squad for players who are making those mistakes,” he said ahead of today’s visit of Wycombe Wanderers.

“If there are perceived improvements within the squad then they have to do better within the u23s games. I have been severely disappointed with the u23s’ performances and results.

“If you are good enough and you are telling me you are good enough to replace players who are in the side then you have to perform in the 23s.

“You can’t work less and earn more. You are very fortunate if you can do that.

“It’s a game we love to play and we should be competitive. Every day we should enjoy putting that shirt on for the reasons we love the game, first and foremost, and representing this club.”

Hill points to the example of second-tier high-fliers Leeds United, whose youths are instructed to play in the style of the first team – currently the closest challengers to table-toppers West Bromwich Albion – in order to ease the transition of home-grown talent into Championship action.

“I have watched them under [head coach Marcelo] Bielsa especially, and under Neil Redfearn, they bring through players who replicate how the first team play, the values, the respect and responsibility for opponents and referees.

“And it’s all galvanised in that environment and the u23s team-sheet.

“I think you can virtually expect the subs who haven’t played at the weekend are playing in that Monday bounce game for a certain amount of time.

“It is difficult being in our 23s at this moment in time because for a large spell this club has been getting beaten and it hasn’t just happened, it has been evident for the last two years.

“At this moment in time we’re hitting 22 points from 23 games which isn’t something I like, isn’t respectable, but it’s better than the last two seasons.

“That’s why we are digging in now.”

Hill has come in for criticism following Wanderers’ run in which they have collected just four points from eight games.

But after away losses at Coventry and Doncaster he points to the statistics that suggest they have performed better than the results show.

“There’s a certain amount of fluffiness. The data for the Doncaster game was actually better than the Coventry one. Sometimes your eyes do lie,” he told The Bolton News.

“Out of possession – are you in control? In possession, are you in control?

“You are trying to control as much as possible.

“I was disappointed to go in 1-0 down before half time, it was concentration levels, but then there seemed to be this view that the first half wasn’t very good whereas the statistical data shows we were better than we were against Coventry.”