Let’s get this out of the way: we’re not the most forgiving bunch, are we?

We expect pretty big things from the ‘Premier League Quality™’ that Simon and the Propagandists keep banging on about, and are prone to bouts of extreme nark when they become post-loan Andy O’Brien – but we expect massive, massive things from The Youth© – whether they’re the finished article or not.

The current crop are definitely not that. They’re not far off, but they’re not that. Yep, there’s undoubtedly much potential there, and it’s all heartening in this time of angst, but this is a bunch slightly ahead of their time, stitching the gaps in a squad that we all know could and should be better – conveniently preventing the harsh gash of our crude uncompetitiveness in the marketplace being fully exposed. This is the Elastoplast Generation.

It’s not the fault of the Lees/ White/ Thompson/ Turner/ Taylor generation that they’re being thrust to higher levels of action than we, and even they themselves might have expected.

Scrap the latter. We’re probably dealing in general terms with the most bloody-minded self-believing generation ever, so if we’re honest, the lads are probably slightly disappointed they haven’t been in the Samba Nike commercial they had lined up for this stage of their life strategy.

I massively digress. What I’m trying to say is that we should back our rag-tag bunch of slightly bewildered talent who don’t seem entirely sure what their best position is yet more than we’ve backed any that have popped off the production line before. Because they bloody need it more than ever before. Suck that rant about the stray pass in, breath in through the nose, out through the mouth. It’ll be alright.

Maybe not all will prove worthy of ‘Wunderkid’ tag or Premier League child-snatching, and indeed maybe not all will even make it at Leeds and end up on the well-trodden path to Scunny, but all that’s immaterial in the now.

Our opponents this weekend are a fine model of the value of being patient with the kids. Before I get e-jumped on, I’m not saying our ambitions should be matched to Palace’s, I’m simply saying that lads like Scannell and Clyne have been kept around, nurtured, and, albeit based on my limited experience of Selhurst Park, not jumped on with ruthless abandon if the thing they try doesn’t quite come off.

They started off as Elastoplast kids too, in times of more believable financial prudence than ours, and now they can really start to believe those cocky dreams are going to be realised. John Bostock on the other hand, tempted by those tainted bright lights of the ‘big league,’ must be stewing in impotent rage across London.

But back to ours. Play all of our almost-readies in that Carling Cup fixture I say – if they’re playing kids, which they will be, there’s surely not so much really at stake that we should give them the satisfaction of fielding all our first-teamers.

Let Captain Jonny, the original and stickiest Elastoplast, lead them into battle with heads held high. They may not be O’Leary’s ‘Babies’ Mk II but it’s hard not to think that this time there’s something distinctly more ‘ours’ about the rabble.  F**k it, let’s shove Sanchez Payne in there too.

Our latest Children’s Crusade has got some big victories lurking in there somewhere – let’s show them that we’re not so knee-jerk as to blame them for their premature, forced exposure into an unforgiving world.