Terry Conroy is sure Nathan Collins will take being left out of one match on the chin – in the knowledge there is a good chance he will be a Stoke City regular next season.
Collins, aged 18, was brought in for his first league start under Michael O’Neill in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw at Blackburn Rovers but James Chester has resumed his place next to Danny Batth against Luton Town this afternoon.
Jordan Cousins also replaces Jordan Thompson in midfield while Sam Vokes takes the place of Tyrese Campbell up front.
“I’m a little bit surprised but having said that we’ve got a large squad and you have to utilise it when you have three games in a week,” said Conroy, who is on Radio Stoke duty at Kenilworth Road.
“Michael O’Neill is bringing in experience. Nathan Collins will feel hard done by but we know he’s for the future. I think next year we’re looking at him being a regular and the young lad will understand that.
“The replacement in midfield is probably because Jordan Thompson has had two games in quick succession and Jordan Cousins is ready made for that role.
“Up front, maybe Tyrese Campbell could have an impact from the bench.
“It does make sense to utilise the squad. This manager isn’t one for unnecessary changes and these make sense. In training he will have looked and thought fresh faces won’t do any harm.”
Assistant manager Billy McKinlay had praise for Collins too as the Republic of Ireland youth international takes a place on the bench.
He said: “The manager spoke to him. We obviously rested James during the week and he’s an experienced player with a good pedigree. It might be a game today for that experience. Nathan is fine, he’s trained well and he’s a good boy, a good type. We were pleased with his performance on Wednesday and there’s more to come from him as we all know.”