KEITH Curle believes a tough season for Oldham Athletic has provided a great footballing education for the club's youngsters.

Harry Vaughan has been the pick of them, having been fast-tracked into the first team frame by Harry Kewell, when he made his debut off the bench at home to Barrow as a first year scholar.

He went on to make a cameo appearance in the derby defeat to Bolton Wanderers at Boundary Park a week later, but that proved to be one of the last games of Kewell's tenure.

However, a change in management did not hinder Vaughan's progress.

The teenager had to bide his time but after impressing from the bench at Morecambe in mid-April he went on to feature in three of the last four games of the season.

Curle also took the opportunity to hand young defender Will Sutton his debut as a substitute in the final day defeat at home to Forest Green Rovers.

And although the centre half was unable to stop the final goal in a 3-0 defeat, Curle said the experience overall was a key one for the second year scholar.

"I've not got a problem with 16/17-year-old players coming in and getting an opportunity. They will learn from it," said the Latics boss.

"You've got players who have played more games than that making similar mistakes.

"When you get beat you've got to learn why. You've got too many players in that changing room consistently making silly errors."

Curle, who also called on 18-year-old Junior Luamba earlier this year, added: "For the younger players who have come in and made appearances this season, it's a great education for them. They are learning on the job and learning on the coal-face. It's a great place to do your work.

"Their attitude towards it has been very good."

And should Curle's anticipated contract extension be confirmed, he is looking to continue working with the Academy staff - including youth team manager Selim Benachour, head of coaching Conor Marlin and head of Academy Paul Murray - to maintain that supply of talent and pathway to the first team.

"I have good communications with Conor regarding the ability that some of the players are showing and it's always good to see it first hand," said Curle.

"It's disappointing because we don't train at the same site so you get limited access and limited face (to face) time but that's where it's about building up relationships with Selim, Conor, Paul Murray and communicating.

"I don't expect the youth team to follow the formations or set-up of the first team - have and understanding of the wheres and whys - but ultimately the coaches are there to get the best out of their players so that when we are able to have a look and watch them we see them playing to their strengths, and that's what it's all about. Whether you are under 16, 17 or 18 we want players who are going out and performing and expressing themselves to the best of their ability in whatever formation the coach decides."