EDS & Academy

Latibeaudiere excited by FA Youth Cup return

SPRINT: Joel Latibeaudiere stretches his legs in training.
Manchester City return to FA Youth Cup action this week and U18s captain, Joel Latibeaudiere, is relishing the chance to test himself in the highly-regarded competition.

A long journey to Plymouth Argyle for a third round tie on Thursday 14 December beckons for the young Blues, as Simon Davies takes charge of the youth cup squad for the first time.

final of the 2016/17 instalment, he is keen consign that disappointment to the past.

“I wouldn’t say I’m more motivated, but I want to prove myself in the competition this year,” declared the defender.

"I was gutted last year. It was the first time I’d missed a massive game due to injury and it was horrible watching from the stands.

“I want to win it so badly.

"It’s too early to think about that, but that’s our goal and we believe we’ve got a good chance.

“We’ve always been capable of that and with our history in the FA Youth Cup we’ll be well up for the Plymouth game.”

The Yorkshire born centre-half is of course referencing the fact that City been beaten in the last three finals by Chelsea, but that couldn’t be further from his mind ahead of the Plymouth test.

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Previous experience in the early rounds of the competition tells him the Pilgrims could potentially set up with the intention of restricting the Blues, in a bid to prevent them from adopting the preferred free-flowing style of play.

That’s no bad thing for the defender though, who believes finding a solution is a worthwhile part of a young player’s development.

"We’ve played against teams before, who’ve tended to drop deep, but it’s just another challenge for us to work through.

“It can be frustrating, but we have to be patient and move them around.

“It’s good for us to learn from because some teams are going to try and stop us and we need to get used to that because it happens in the men’s game.”

Despite playing in his first FA Youth Cup final two years ago, Latibeaudiere is still only 17 and is one of several players still eligible from the previous campaign.

You won’t have seen him turn out for Gareth Taylor’s U18s this season, though, with the England junior part of Davies’ Elite Development Squad plying its trade in the U23 Premier League 2.

Luke Bolton, Tom Dele-Bashiru, Ed Francis, Benjamin Garre, Lorenzo Gonzalez, Matt Smith and Tyreke Wilson also fall into this category and Latibeaudiere feels that experience, of playing against bigger, more physically developed opponents, will aid them when playing within their own age group.

“I think playing for the EDS has made us more mature in our play,” he said. “I’ve definitely noticed that.

“Playing against bigger players has exposed us to the physical side of the game and there’s also the game management side, which you have to be more aware of if you’re ahead in the final 15 minutes.

“It’s all positive, especially for knockout football, when you only get once chance.

“You’ve got to leave the pitch with no regrets and make sure you’re on your game for that 90 minutes.”

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