Ben Cabango and Ben Wilmot have been tipped to go from strength to strength after coming through their derby day examination.
The Swansea City pair were the pillars on which Steve Cooper’s side built their resistance as they kept a clean sheet in the goalless draw at Cardiff City on Sunday.
Cabango, 19, and 20-year-old Wilmot dealt with the aerial challenge of the home side and although the Bluebirds’ Callum Paterson hit the bar late on, they were not exposed as some had predicted before the game.
Both players played little during the opening weeks of the season when Mike van der Hoorn and Joe Rodon were the regular centre-backs in the starting line-up for the Swans.
But the young pair were thrust together after injuries with Cardiff-born Cabango and Wilmot, who is loan from Watford, looking more comfortable as the derby progressed.
Cooper said: “A lot was said before the game about playing two young players at centre back in a game like this.
“But that’s the only way young players get better. We promote our own and they should be proud of the way they played.
“It was a tough one for them but I didn’t worry about them. They are competitive and athletic.
“The second half did not go as we wanted it to. It was a stop-start game, lots of aerial balls, and it just panned out as a 0-0. It’s probably a better point for them than for us, that’s for sure.
“Having said that, there were lots of positives from the game. We have a clean sheet for two young centre-backs and having the mentality to come to a place like this and only wanting to win.
“It’s not a missed opportunity as we have to respect the occasion and the magnitude of the fixture, but our main objective was to win so there is a bit of frustration for us.”
The draw was a third consecutive clean sheet for the Swans, who have dropped out of the play-off places, but who remain level on points with sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday.
Goalkeeper Freddie Woodman – himself only 22 – now boasts nine Championship shut-outs this season. Only Leeds’ Kiko Casilla has kept more.
The clean sheet at Cardiff came on the back of the goalless draw against Barnsley and the 1-0 win over Charlton and Wodman said: “Personally, it’s great to get another clean sheet.
“That’s three on the spin now. That’s always nice as a goalkeeper and a defensive unit.
“I think there’s too much focus on the goalkeeper when it comes to clean sheets; it’s down to the whole team.
“The lads are constantly putting their bodies on the line and it always helps me as a goalkeeper.
“I thought the two centre-halves were magnificent. They’re young lads but won every header and battled right to the end. They deserve a massive shout-out.”