Pep’s pups to be unleashed! Manchester City boss Guardiola seizes chance to rest his star men and offers big chance to the academy kids, led by Cole Palmer, in Champions League clash at Leipzig
- Cole Palmer among five teenagers pushing to feature in Champions League tie
- There is a degree of expectancy surrounding the new batch coming through
- Man City have already qualified for the knockout stages as group winners
Manchester City will give another opportunity to a group of burgeoning academy products in Leipzig on Tuesday night, with Pep Guardiola resistant to any leaving on loan next month.
Cole Palmer, the England Under 21 international, heads a list of five teenagers pushing to feature in the Champions League dead rubber played behind closed doors. City have already qualified for the knockout stages as group winners.
Palmer made his European bow last season and has shone with more regular inclusion in recent months, scoring in the Carabao Cup and earlier in the group stage at Club Bruges.
Cole Palmer (L) is the most highly-rated youngster at Man City, while Pep Guardiola spotted midfielder Romeo Lavia (R) at Anderlecht
RB Leipzig (4-1-2-1-2): Gulacsi; Mukiele, Gvardiol, Klostermann, Angelino; Kampl; Laimer, Forsberg; Nkunku; Silva, Brobbey.
Manchester City (4-3-3): Steffen; Walker, Stones, Ake, Wilson-Esbrand; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Zinchenko; Palmer, Grealish, Foden.
Kick-off: 5.45pm, LIVE on BT Sport 2.
City rebuffed interest in the forward last summer and he will continue the season with Guardiola’s first-team squad after an impressive first league start against Everton. His path is one previously trodden by Phil Foden, who City consistently refused to send on loan.
Four others travelling to RB Leipzig — midfielders James McAtee and Romeo Lavia, full backs Josh Wilson-Esbrand and CJ Egan-Riley — also appear likely to remain at City.
‘The young players will stay here this season,’ Guardiola said. ‘It’s winter (transfer) time but I think they’ll stay all season with us and we need them. To loan them, we have to be sure they play every single game. And see which manager is there and the way they play.
‘The best way to improve is to play every single week. They can do it here with the second team but that competition isn’t strong enough to make the step. Right now, training with the first team for a short period is really good.’
James McAtee (L) likened to David Silva after he danced through Everton’s defence on his debut, while Josh Wilson-Esbrand (R) was snapped up from West Ham
Defender CJ Egan-Riley has been with City for more than a decade
There is a degree of expectancy surrounding the new batch coming through, with McAtee — previously on Manchester United’s books — a standout at Under 23 level this term and earning a first Premier League appearance against Everton last month. Talks are progressing over a new contract.
Egan-Riley joined City’s academy as a child, with Wilson-Esbrand and Lavia making moves from West Ham and Anderlecht in previous seasons. Injuries have hampered two of the brightest prospects, Liam Delap and Sam Edozie, with both name-checked by Guardiola yesterday.
Gabriel Jesus will miss tonight’s tie after a heavy clash with Watford’s Craig Cathcart on Saturday, but Kevin De Bruyne will start in Germany in a bid to build up his fitness. De Bruyne missed four matches after testing positive for Covid before returning from the bench at Vicarage Road.
‘Kevin was growing in his physical condition and got Covid. It was a setback,’ Guardiola said. ‘Now he has to come back and fight for a position like everyone else. But Kevin doesn’t have to show absolutely anything to me.’
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