OXFORD United’s promising crop of youngsters have impressed Karl Robinson – and not just because of their ability on the ball.

Several teenagers were involved in the club’s first two pre-season friendlies, with players such as Tyler Goodrham, Michael Elechi and Gatlin O’Donkor likely to feature again in tonight’s meeting with Hayes & Yeading United (7.30pm).

It follows an exciting display from United’s Under 18s against Salford City on Saturday, when O’Donkor scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 win over the admittedly tired Sky Bet League Two side inside 45 minutes.

Match report: Oxford United beat Salford City in training ground friendly

Asked if it was the most excited he had been about a group of young players since becoming United’s head coach in 2018, Robinson said: “It certainly is, and not just because of the talent they possess.

“Sometimes you get young players that come along and they don’t know how to handle the talent and the expectation that comes with that.

“There’s a different mentality swing in some of the ones we’ve got and I think they understand how far they can actually go.”

In the last month, 19-year-old Leon Chambers-Parillon and Goodrham, 18, have signed their first professional contracts and both featured in Friday’s 3-2 win at Oxford City.

Fellow teenagers Elechi and Ben Watt, who had a taste in the first-team environment last season, were also given minutes at Court Place Farm, while Under 21 goalkeeper Kie Plumley was a late substitute for Simon Eastwood.

All five were involved in the meeting with Salford on Saturday, which was split into thirds.

After Chambers-Parillon and Elechi played in the first-team’s 2-1 win in 90 minutes, the youngsters took over.

Adam Smith found the net as well as O’Donkor, who does not turn 17 until October and last December became United’s youngest-ever player.

Both teenagers starred in 2020/21 as the Under 18s won the Youth Alliance South West Division title for the second time in three years.

Regular first-team football is clearly still a long way off, but Robinson has been willing to throw youngsters in at the deep end before.

He said: “The young players we’ve got in the football club are improving and we’re excited by that.

“If some of them perform the way they did then age is no deterrent to me playing them.

“That’s part of my reputation as a manager.

“Sometimes I’m a bit too harsh on them, I get that, but it’s only going to stand them in good stead.

“The ones who find it difficult to cope do fall short, but they’re going to fall short anyway.

“The pressure’s important early on, not just the pressure you put on the players but the pressure of being fearless with that talent.”

Tonight’s friendly takes place at Thame United’s ASM Stadium, before players who have seen less action get a run-out at Banbury United tomorrow.