Defenders Darren Holden and Jack Baldwin, defender/midfielder Jordan Richards, all 19, and striker Luke James, 18, are all into double figures for first-team appearances this season, but Hughes is anxious not to put them under too much pressure at this stage of their development, especially in a side fighting for League One survival.
Hughes said: "Luke James, Jack Baldwin and Jordan Richards have all been doing well and are in the first-team squad on merit.
"Jordan recently at right-back has shown tremendous form. He's got a great energy and enthusiasm about him and this rubs off on the others, so we've had to give him his head and Neil Austin understands that.
"Neil is a great professional, he keeps his head right and has a big role to play in this squad due to his experience.
"With the younger players it's a case of nursing them along. We're not going to ask Luke James to be the focal point of our attack at this stage of his career, that would be too much too soon.
"Throwing young players in too early can ruin them and I've seen it happen. Their time will come. But they keep showing us their ability every day in training."