Southend United boss Paul Sturrock rued the lack of experience in the middle of his team following Tuesday’s Capital One Cup exit.
Blues suffered a 4-0 defeat against Championship side Peterborough United as they got their 2012/13 season underway.
And Southend chief Sturrock highlighted United’s inexperience in midfield as costing his side the heavy defeat.
“After the debacle the other night we just fitted on the end of the Tottenham game,” he told the official website.
“I think I have too many young players that are showing their inexperience and lack of confidence.
“In centre midfielder we are playing two wide players and another who was in and out of the team last year.
“The engine room is the most important part right down the middle and we are soft-centred there at the moment.
“It is now showing that we need men not boys in the middle.”
Blues are weak on numbers in midfield following Michael Timlin’s shoulder injury and losing Anthony Grant to Stevenage in the summer.
Sturrock also released Frenchman Jean-Paul Kalala at the end of the season but has so far been unsuccessful in his attempts to replace them.
That meant with injuries to David Martin (foot) and Kevan Hurst not 100 per cent Sturrock was forced to play Ryan Leonard alongside Kane Ferdinand and Anthony Straker.
But despite that Sturrock knows his side will have to show more fight in League Two when the season starts on Saturday against Accrington Stanley at Roots Hall.
“The players know they have let themselves down again,” he added. “The second half was better but the horse had bolted by then, saying that we showed a bit more gumption.
“We won’t face a side like this in League Two but we should be doing better than this.
“If we don’t battle and fight in our league and think we can out play teams then we will have the same problems as we are having today.”