Club Journalist Jack Mumford looks at the main talking points ahead of Manchester City's trip to Stoke City in the second leg of the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup.
With City already 6-0 up after the first leg, fans may be expecting the youngsters to be going in to the match with little other than staying injury-free on their mind. However, boss Lee Carsley has demanded the complete attention of his side.
He said: “It’s important for the mentality that we do it right. We have to give Stoke the respect they deserve – they are a good team.
“We’ve had one of those nights where we’ve taken almost every chance we had but I still thought it was tight in terms of the chances they had at 1-0. If one of those goes in, it’s game on.
“We will have to be at our best to get anything at Stoke.”
Many of the squad have been away during the previous couple of weeks with Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden guiding England to the U17 European Championships and Lukas Nmecha and Isaac Buckley-Ricketts helping the Three Lions to the U19 version.
Kjetil Haug, Ed Francis, Sadou Diallo and Brahim Diaz were also away during the break. With so many international stars refreshed by the recent successes, they will be heading in to the tie full of confidence.
Getting to deal with the big stage is vital for any young player, especially if they’re to go on and challenge for trophies as part of City’s first team.
With most of the U18 Premier League matches taking place on developmental pitches, the rare opportunity to play in a stadium that usually hosts Premier League football is one that gives these players a bigger audience.
Monday night’s clash will also be shown on ITV4, meaning these players have plenty to impress.
Plethora of options
With such a strong squad for regular U18 Premier League matches joined by the likes of Diaz, Nmecha and Demeaco Duhaney for the Youth Cup, whittling it down to 11 is tough for Carsley.
Tom Dele-Bashiru was the unlucky one in the first leg. Having played a key role in earlier rounds, the midfielder was reduced to a substitutes’ berth as City opted for the pace of Luke Bolton and the striking power of Nmecha with Diaz operating in Dele-Bashiru’s central role.
Will Carsley go with the side that clearly worked so well in the first leg or will he have some more surprises up his sleeve?
Although the Blues still must complete the job of reaching the final, they know Chelsea will be watching them closely as they prepare a plan to stop Carsley’s side.
If City can turn on the heat once again at the bet365 Stadium, it may give them the psychological edge in the final before a ball has even been kicked.
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