Roy Hodgson made no apologies for making eight changes to his side as Fulham were beaten by Burnley in the Carling Cup third round.
Jay Rodriguez stepped off the bench to score the winning goal two minutes from time, but his reward from boss Owen Coyle looks set to be a reserve outing on Wednesday night.
After the Cottagers only escaped Premier League relegation on the final day of the season, Hodgson has made it clear that he wants his key players fit for the weekend clash against West Ham.
He said: “The Premier League is our priority and some of my players have niggling injuries.
“I am pleased with our team as many players were in for the first time. We looked on for extra time then we conceded so close to the end.
It was unfortunate that the centre back slipped on the pitch as it gave them the winning goal.
Prior to that to be fair the back four defended very well against a barrage of long balls and in terms of team organization we dealt with it very well so it is unfortunate to lose in that way
“Burnley looked a good side. I don’t know the Championship well enough but I would think they could do well. They are well organised defensively and have players with pace and skill.”
Rodriguez showed a cool head to round the goalkeeper after a glorious through-ball from Chris Eagles, who had also stepped off the bench.
However, manager Coyle soon brought the local hero down to earth.
“I am going to tell him he is in the reserves tomorrow,” said the Scottish boss. “Mind you he is a very level-headed lad.
“I am delighted Jay showed that level of composure at his age to score the winner. That is what we are trying to do at this club – to encourage young talent.
“Jay is a talent, he showed that, but it was a great pass in the first place.”
Rodriguez was sent out on loan to Stirling Albion last season and Coyle said: “I saw him score a similar goal to the one tonight against my old club St Johnstone.
“He has that ability in his locker when he is one on one with the goalkeeper. We believe in time he will be a real number nine. Certainly he has not done himself any harm tonight.”