Under-18s head coach Ben Wilkinson says he is eager to see how his youngsters handle the challenge of knockout football after City sealed our place in the last eight of the Premier League Under-18 Cup.

A hard-fought 1-1 draw at home to West Brom on Saturday sealed a top spot finish for City in Group D, ensuring our passage through to the knockout stages.

Alfie Harrison had opened the scoring at the CFA with a fine first strike only for the young Baggies to draw level in the second half after Harrison had seen an earlier penalty saved.

For Wilkinson however it was a satisfactory outcome to a group stage campaign that earlier saw City win at Everton before then defeating Peterborough at home.

And the head coach says the prospect of seeing his young charges now test themselves in the pressurised environment of the knockout stages in early 2024 will provide the ideal New Year challenge.

“We’re through to the quarter-final which was our objective at the start of the group stage,” the head coach reflected.

“That gives you a chance to play knockout football after Christmas.

“Hopefully we can progress to the semi-finals and the final which from a development point of view is really good because we get to see what our players are like under that kind of pressure.

“In terms of the game itself, I thought the performance was not bad without us being at our best.

“I thought we lacked a bit of control in the first half, especially in the second half we probably lacked a bit of quality in the final third.

We got into some great positions but we lacked a bit of quality in our final pass and final action.

“We had numerous opportunities and had enough really good moments to give ourselves a chance to score but I felt we were just a bit wasteful with our last action.”