"Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren concedes he has been indebted to the club's Academy for keeping the club afloat this season.
Injuries forced the England assistant coach to include eight Academy graduates in the squad for Saturday's win over Blackburn.
Stewart Downing and Tony McMahon in particular have emerged as important first-team contributors this season and McClaren has been glad of the steady flow of talent from the youth ranks.
"When I look, I thank God for our Academy," said McClaren.
"The players it has produced and that are coming through shows how good our Academy is and how much we have needed them.
"They are there on merit and can do a job for us, which they have proved before. If the UEFA regulations do come in, at least we qualify for them!"
McClaren admits he would not have used so many of the young players as he has if he had the choice.
However, the bonus is that he now has early indications of just how far they can go after throwing them in at the deep end amid a disappointing run of form which had brought just one victory in seven attempts before the win over Blackburn.
"I can't say it's an ideal situation for either us or them," he said.
"Ideally, they would like to go into a winning side, but this is where you test the character of the young players, can they cope with the first team, can they cope with the Premier League?
"You find out about them very, very quickly instead of waiting two or three years to make a decision because you don't quite know if they can cope with that level.
"At least we're finding out when they're 17 or 18."
The process of producing future first-team players is one which has been given a priority at the Riverside Stadium in recent seasons, and Downing's elevation to the England squad for Wednesday night's friendly clash with Holland is an indication of its success to date.
Boro tied up promising full-back McMahon on an extended deal last week and today moved to ensure that two more of their blossoming youngsters remain on Teesside.
Talented 18-year-olds Jason Kennedy and David Knight have become the fifth and sixth members of the club's FA Youth Cup-winning side to sign professional contracts, following in the footsteps of James Morrison, McMahon, Matthew Bates and Gary Liddle.
"We are determined to hang on to and develop our best young players," said McClaren.
"Both Jason and David have earned their first professional contracts and deserve much credit for getting this far.
"Now they must strive to take the next steps. They must continue to develop and improve if they want to fulfil their ambitions of making a career in the professional game."
"It's vitally important to keep all our youngsters."
Mclaren have for for a seriously strange concept on the engine cover today in testing. Was just looking at pictures of it... they have managed to make it look uglier than the front end of the ferrari!!!
the exhaust housing or wheel covers?
By the way are we the worlds only 3 F1 fans left? We do seem to be the only ones that post on here
England won 2-0.
How did Simon Francis(defender)do when he came on at h/t do you know?
I just know about the Boro players, sorry. Danny Graham had quite a good game and played the whole 90 minutes. In the second half he had a one-on-one with the Russian goalkeeper and, instead of firing at the 'keeper like he did on Saturday, this time he pushed it wide of the far post. Ross Turnbull was a huge improvement on the 'keeper in the first half and what a big bloke he is. Made two good saves but was otherwise untroubled.
Lost to Holland for the U21.