Fulham manager Martin Jol has issued a strong defence of his youth policy, insisting the right players will be given a chance at senior level.
The Dutchman has also said he is “the first Fulham manager over the last 10 years” to include youngsters in first-team training sessions.
And Jol shrugged off reports of discontent among the club’s academy staff at his apparent reluctance to blood youngsters.
“These talks are coming from the academy – there is always one or two guys with some connections in the press,” he said.
“You get the same thing at any club, but the Under-21s are my responsibility – they have nothing to do with the academy.
“I told the coach of the Under-18s, Steve Wigley, that as soon as he sees a player who he thinks is ready then to knock on my door – and he never has. Can you see us fighting for our lives in the Premier League and playing 16 or 17-year-olds? It’s not only about Fulham, you don’t see players at this age playing in the Premier League.”
Jol named highly-rated 17-year-old striker Moussa Dembele on the bench for Saturday’s home defeat against Swansea.
Mesca has also been involved with the first-team squad this season and the Whites boss says he is hopeful other young players will make the step up.
“I’ve still got two or three youngsters that I am keeping a good eye on and they train with us sometimes,” he explained.
“I am the first Fulham manager over the last 10 years who did that. When I came in, Matthew Briggs was the only young player in the squad. Now I’ve got five or six.
“I’ve got Pajtim Kasami, Alex Kacaniklic and Moussa Demebele – and Patrick Roberts will be a very good player in the future and George Williams too. They all train with us.
“You need a good team and you need to play good football, which is what we want, and then you can integrate one or two youngsters.
“That’s what I did with Kacaniklic – he is from our Under-21s – and if you look at Kasami, he needed two years. It’s not easy.”