McAtee, Mbete-Tabu and the Man City wonderkids to watch in the FA Youth Cup semi-finals
The 2019-20FA Youth Cup resumes on Friday, but the strength of the squad sentby semi-finalists Manchester City will depend much on thefirst-team plans of Pep Guardiola.
They last lifted the trophy in 2008 and would have a good chance of ending their 12-year wait had the coronavirus not forced football to shut down in the spring.
Among those who were part of the squad back then includeLiam Delap, Cole Palmer, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Tommy Doyle; all of whomhaveplayed for Guardiola’s first-team already this season.
Whether they will play in the last-four of the Youth Cup now depends on the Catalan, who may well call on some or allto be part of his own squad for Saturday's trip to Sheffield United.
City have been beset by injury and illness problems so far this term, and are currently without Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, meaning Guardiola could turn to 17-year-old striker Delap, who has already scored for in the Carabao Cup this season.
Tuesday's Champions League clash with Olympiacos at the Etihad Stadium, meanwhile,comes just 24 hours before a potential final, and with three of City’s youth team having beenon the bench for the Group C clash with Marseille earlier this week - includingPalmer who made his European debut - there is a chance they will again be forced to miss out on a shot at silverware.
To compound matters, highly-rated winger Jayden Braaf is a major doubt having only just returned to training following an injurywhich has seen him be ruled him out since the start of the season.
It is not just on the pitch where there will be new faces, either.
Despite all that, there are still some potential stars of the future who will be on show when City take to the field:
City’s academy has brought through a number of exciting creative midfielders in recent times, and McAtee is following in the footsteps of homegrown No.10s Phil Foden and Palmer.
The 17-year-old has been one of the standout performers for the Under-23s so farthis season after earning an opportunity due to there beingso many youngsters who have movedup to be part of Guardiola’s first-team plans.
In the opening three games of the seasonhe scored three goals and assisted a further two.
He also played as a false-nine against League Two outfitScunthorpe United in the EFL Trophy,claimingtwo more assists in a 4-0 victory over senior opposition.
McAtee has been highly-regarded by coaches since he was picked up from the Manchester United academy and played a key role for the U18s side that won last season'sPremier League Cup and was 12 points clear inthe Northern section when the season was abandoned.
A quick, strong centre-back,17-year-old defender Mbete-Tabuhas already drawn early comparisons with club legend Vincent Kompany.
The London-born defender joined City as an U12from Brentford and has made steady progress through the academy structure.
He has shown his quality at a higher level, particularly inthe way he stepped up against former West Ham striker Nicky Maynard in a 3-0 EFL Trophy win over League Two Mansfield Town in September.
Mbete-Tabu was called into the England U18s squad earlier this month and many are tipping him to go to the very top.
Cumbria seems to be a hotbed for English goalkeepers, with Manchester United’s Dean Henderson and former City and England U17 World Cup winner Curtis Anderson hailing from the county.
Eighteen-year-old Trafford is the next off the conveyor belt, and he often chats to Henderson for advice while also workingregularly with first-team coach Xabier Mancisidor to learn the qualities of Brazilian No.1 Ederson.
It is working well so far, with Trafford a regular for England at U16s, U17s, U18s and now U19s.
He signed his first professional contract in July 2020 and was added to City’s Champions League squad in October.
Born in Manchester, 17-year-old Egan-Riley has been with Citysince the age of 10 and has impressed at each age group at the Etihad Campus.
His calmness and intelligence on the ball has seen him switch between playing at full-back, in the centre of defence or as a deep-lying midfielder.
After one appearance for Ireland at U16 level, he switched back to playing for England and is another City player in Kevin Betsy’s U18s squad.
Source : goal.com
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