Gareth Taylor is urging City’s high flying Under-18s to rise to the challenge again in Saturday’s Under 18 Premier League Cup semi-final away at Reading.

City, who are defending Cup holders, have been in superb form in all competitions so far this season.

Taylor’s young charges currently lead the way in Under 18 Premier League North and also have an FA Youth Cup quarter-final at home to Burnley to look forward to.

With the business end of the season now upon us, the manager wants his players to embrace the prospect of ‘crunch time’ and stick to the tried and trusted methods that have proved so successful so far this term.

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“It’s getting down to the crunch stage and hopefully another solid display can give us another final to look forward to,” said Taylor.

“I have been really impressed with them all season, the way they have grown as a group and as individuals and they are a determined bunch.

“The lads have done really well in both cup competitions as well as the league and they are looking forward to the challenge and we want to keep on improving.

“The first objective was getting out of the group which was a tough one... now we want to go that one step further.

“It’s crunch time as everything is coming together in the next few weeks. We have potential title decider in the league against Liverpool, and then the FA Youth Cup tie after that.

“The Under 18 PL Cup quarter-final was a tough test against a very good outfit in Brighton. It was a long journey, but the lads were excellent in the way they handled every situation.

“Now we have another challenge against another Academy side that we don’t normally come up against and we are all looking forward to it.

"There are two Northern teams - ourselves and Stoke - and two Southern sides - Chelsea and Reading - in the last four which is great for everyone.

“The players and staff are all excited by the challenge and we want to keep on improving as a group.”