EDS & Academy

City keen to get back to Under-18 Premier League action, says Wilkinson

Ben Wilkinson says his players are raring to go ahead of this weekend’s Under-18 Premier League clash with Blackburn Rovers.

The Blues welcome Rovers to the City Football Academy in an 11:30 kick-off on Saturday in only our sixth league game of the campaign.

Wilkinson’s side have registered three wins, one draw and one defeat in defence of our title so far, with the latest victory a 6-2 thrashing of Leeds United a fortnight ago.

That leaves us currently in fourth in the north group, but with games in hand on the sides above us.

Under-18s 2022/23 fixtures

Having suffered several injuries throughout the squad earlier in the season, Wilkinson is delighted to report a much larger group of players from which he can now pick from.

He said: "We’re in a much better place at the minute compared to the start of the season when we were really struggling. We had a lot of injuries in pre-season.

“We’ve recovered a lot of those players now. I think they’re raring to go to be honest, especially when you put in a really good performance like we did against Leeds. They’re desperate to go again.

“We’ll have an exciting November and December time and we’ll have a lot more games than we’ve had so far. Hopefully we can put ourselves in a good position by the Christmas break.”

The stop-start nature of the season so far means it has been tough for City to find the rhythm that helps players be at their best.

It also means that Wilkinson and his coaches will not look at the league table yet, knowing it is yet to be a true reflection of the relative quality of each side.

Asked when he believes the table will take shape, he said: “Because of the way this season’s gone, probably not for a long time. At least until January.

“I think if we can just get our performances right between now and Christmas then I’d like to think we can put ourselves in a reasonable position to challenge come the new year.

“We have a lot of belief in the squad again and we’ve sort of been around it before, so I think we need to get to Christmas then reassess and see how we go in this period between now and then.”

The Academy will be without one of its coaches for a period as Jamie Carr prepares to set off on the challenge of a lifetime.

He will be rowing 3,000 nautical miles solo to Antigua from the Canary Islands as part of his Nothing Ventured Campaign in order to raise money for City in the Community (CITC), and Cancer Fund for Children in his native Ireland.

Wilkinson is in awe of his colleague and says that he and his players can take something from the jaw dropping challenge.

"It’s absolutely incredible what he’s attempting to do, he said.

"He’s got our full support obviously and we’re really looking forward to seeing how he goes on.

It’s an example of, even for our players, when you really commit to something, you’re very single minded about it and you train right then you can go on to achieve anything you want.”

You can follow Saturday’s match on Twitter via @ManCityAcademy. We will have a detailed match report available immediately after the final whistle.

You can watch our Under-18s in action live on CITY+ and Recast twice in November. Firstly, we face Stoke City on 19 November then we’ll play Sunderland on 26 November.

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