Some Premiership clubs may want to use the lower leagues as a vehicle for their youth teams but they will rightly be resisted. Yet some of the top clubs were reluctant to put sides into the Checkatrade Trophy competition to play against lower clubs, for however many games.The problem with u23s football is that it's u23s football. The UK has it wrong there they need to copy the Spanish and Portuguese systems where the reserve team plays in a competitive league a few division down.
The lads need consistent 1st team football(even if on loan) in an environment were they experience the day to day of fighting for your job, competing for your spot not being given a spot because u train with the first team.
I will say this again Curtis is a real talent there is no doubt of that but he has to try to influence the game more. IMHO he is playing too deep for the u23s he is currently playing more like an 8. He is best playing either in behind the 9(in the 10) or on the left in the 11.
That being said I think with the talent that team has they are def under performing and again IMHO they are not playing with enough freedom. IT is all too predictable to rigid almost formulaic easy to defend. I sat with 3 other scout at the game vs Blackburn and they all said the same thing.
No one seems to want to break the lines and play a ball forward for fear of loosing possession. Players like Curtis and Rafa and Bobby and even Liam need to express themselves and they look stiffled to me.
If I was the manager I would work on getting the ball forward as quick as possibleand yes like you said getting it to Curtis in the final third and then see what he can really do. At the moment it all a little too sideways and backwards...
Jones should certainly be looking more like he is pushing for the top than he is. Arsenal's Saka only left school in the summer and has now been promoted to England's u19s. Man City haven't sent Foden out on loan but when he gets a taste of first team action (and playing for England youth) he really pushes himself to the limit of awareness sharpness and determination (without needing a loan). Jones should be showing the same drive.