West Bromwich Albion's fringe players can use the Carling Cup to show they have what it takes to cut it in the Premier League with performances like the 2-0 victory over Leyton Orient, according to coach Michael Appleton.
With a trip to Liverpool to come on Sunday, Baggies boss Roberto Di Matteo was taking no chances as the likes of goalkeeper Scott Carson, Scotland midfielder Graham Dorrans and Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie, who had scored on his debut against Sunderland, were all left on the bench at the Matchroom Stadium.
However, those handed an opportunity to impress did not disappoint, with defender Pablo Ibanez heading in his first goal since a summer move from Atletico Madrid on 12 minutes, and substitute Chris Wood, the New Zealand striker, slotting in a second during stoppage time, while England youth international Sam Mantom also caught the eye, the 18-year-old having toughened up during a loan spell in Iceland with Haukar.
"We feel we have a strong squad and the lads who have come in put a shift in and have started asking questions, which is important," Appleton said.
"We know we might go through the season where we do not win two or three League games on the bounce, and still being in the cup competitions does help to lift the morale.
"The next round will give players who find themselves out of the team again another opportunity to go out and perform."
Appleton, who himself had played as a youngster in the League Cup for Manchester United in 1996, continued: "A couple of the Academy boys came in and made a massive contribution, Sam Mantom was outstanding in his first game for the club.
"He used to get knocked off the ball a lot in youth team games, but always showed that ability.
"It did him the world of good when he went away to Iceland in the summer and played for two months over there.
"It is probably a bit early for him in the Premier League right away, but it is a long old season and there will be injuries."
Appleton revealed the Baggies were still keen on Portsmouth utility man Marc Wilson, despite having a second bid knocked back.
"One or two new faces would lift things again, but it is one thing wanting them and getting them in is another," he said.