Young trio in the frame

Alan Curbishley will have no hesitation in giving some of his younger talents a chance to shine before the end of the season if the time is right.

A trio of Academy products are on the verge of breaking through - namely defender James Tomkins, midfielder Jack Collison and striker Freddie Sears. All have been familiar faces in and around the first-team squad in recent weeks. The trio shone again in a midweek reserve victory against Fulham, this weekend's first-team opponents - especially Sears, who capped a good run of U18s form with another goal for the second string.

"We are really pleased with Freddie - the last couple of months he has come on a bundle," said Curbishley, who has already handed Collison his first-team debut at Arsenal on New Year's Day and had him on the bench against Birmingham City a fortnight ago. "He has been around the first team and has been around the squad training with us. We have got high hopes for him. I would not be afraid to play Tomkins, Collison and Sears.

"We have got 13 games left and I need to look at one or two things - other clubs will do the same. Obviously Tomkins and Collison have been around it for the last couple of months. Freddie has been in the squad on a couple of occasions. I am not afraid to put them in. I will put them in if I think it is right."