HOLLAND FC assistant manager Calvin Allen says his club have a long-term plan to keep integrating young players into their first team.

The club have put a heavy emphasis on creating a pathway through their youth set-up and are beginning to reap the rewards.

Midfielder Sonny Bastone is a prime example, now an established member of the club's Thurlow Nunn League side, while defender Sam Foley also looked assured when drafted into the team for last week's First Division Knockout Cup quarter-final victory against May and Baker.

Allen says it has taken time and patience to reach this point, because it would have been unfair to blood youngsters too soon.

But now he believes his club are ready to reap dividends with others coming through the system and Holland's under-18s riding high in the Thurlow Nunn Youth League.

"We've had a bit of a change around, in terms of personnel," Allen told the Gazette.

"We've brought a couple of lads in and called on a couple from the under-18s.

"We recognised that with people moving on, we needed to fill some gaps and hopefully, going forward, we'll continue in this vein.

"Heading into next year, we're going to be using more and more of the lads from our under-18s.

"That's the long-term plan because we can't sustain a policy of bringing players in from outside.

"We haven't got the funds to do that and that's why we want to use our homegrown talent.

"Initially, until they were ready, we had to try and bring players in from outside.

"But it's looking good going forward and there are some very talented lads in the under-16s, going into the under-18s.

"It won't be long before they're also ready to step up and play this level.

"It's looking rosy.

"We've got that system here so it makes sense to use it.

"This club is all about giving young players a chance.

"The first few years have been a bit difficult, because we're still finding our feet at this level, waiting for our young players to come through and be ready for men's football.

"Now that they are, it's a real bonus for us.

"It's a big responsibility but they're coping with the pressure, which is excellent."

Holland returned to Thurlow Nunn League division one south action last weekend and won 3-0 at May and Baker.

Skipper Reece Keating, Jimmy Webb and Toby Harms scored their goals.

They are back on their travels on Saturday, at leaders Hashtag United, before returning to the W&S Scaffolding Community Stadium for a home match with Benfleet on March 2.

"It's great for the club to be in a cup semi-final, especially as our league form had dipped," added Allen.

"It's a nice distraction, but we're still very focused on finishing as high as we can.

"If we can finish in the top six, we'll be in next season's FA Cup.

"That's our aim at the moment but we want to keep using the young lads.

"There are others around the squad and part of things, so they'll get opportunities before the end of the season.

"They've really stepped up and complimented the more experienced players we've got in the squad.

"That's the key - having the right numbers and the right balance.

"You can't go with a completely young side at this level because it will knock their confidence."