Walsall Academy manager praised his side’s performance under difficult circumstances despite a 4-3 defeat away at Morecambe at the weekend.
Goals from Luke Pearce, Alex McSkeane and Ramani Stephens wasn’t enough as Morecambe fought back twice to claim the victory.
Llera’s side impressed in the first half and went in with a 1-0 lead at the break. They doubled their advantage early in the second half but the Shrimps drew level.
Stephens made it 3-2 but Morecambe battled back and turned the game on its head.
Llera admitted his team are finding life difficult without a number of key defensive players but he was proud of his team for their effort given the adverse weather conditions.
“It was a game of two different halves with difficult conditions to play in,” Llera said.
“In the first half we had the wind on our side and we lasted really well.
“I said to them at half-time that the game was going to change and it will be a really tough second half. We need to be ready for a fight, for heading and to compete because it’s going to be a different game.
“We started the game really well and got the second goal in the first three or four minutes and after that we struggled. We are really struggling in defence; we don’t have a centre-back available.
“We conceded two goals from long throws and two goals from long balls, scrappy goals but this is the lesson to learn. We’re disappointed with the loss but it was a good performance. I think the centre-back situation is affecting the team performance massively.
“In the last two weeks we have been playing without our centre-backs available. It’s costing us a lot of points in the league but on the other hand I’m pleased for the lads, they’ve been competing in the Under 23s and last week Brian Dutton was pleased with the Youth Team players, Luke scored again so there’s positive things.”
Elsewhere, a handful of Academy players featured in the reserves as Dutton’ side beat Rotherham United 2-1 in the Central League.
Pearce was on the scoresheet on that occasion and Llera feels it’s an important stage for second year scholars fighting for pro contracts to show what they can do.
“It’s the time they have to make that step forward and the time to impress,” added Llera.
“I think all of them did pretty well, Duts was really pleased with them. This is the way we will make them ready mentality and physically. This is our job and we are trying to push them in that way.”