EDS & Academy

EDS eager to get back to PL2 action, says Barry-Murphy

Brian Barry-Murphy says there is an eager sense of anticipation amongst our Elite Development Squad ahead of Sunday’s Premier League 2 curtain-raiser against Liverpool.

We begin our defence of the title with a difficult trip to Merseyside, with kick-off scheduled for 14:00 (UK), in what will be a repeat of last season’s opening encounter – a game that ended goalless.

Our Under-21s make the trip armed with a formidable reputation having achieved back-to-back PL2 triumphs.

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It has been a summer of change for City’s Academy with a number of the players who proved instrumental in those title successes – amongst them former skipper CJ Egan-Riley, along with midfielders Romeo Lavia and Darko Gyabi – having moved on to Burnley, Southampton and Leeds respectively.

Others, meanwhile, including last season’s PL2 Player of the Year James McAtee and goalkeeper Cieran Slicker have secured season-long loan moves.

Meanwhile, several of the players from our National and Northern Under-18 Premier League title wining squad have moved up the age ranks and linked up with Barry-Murphy’s squad.

It means the head coach is under no illusions about the challenges awaiting his young squad.

Nonetheless, after a positive pre-season which also saw the EDS squad travel to Croatia for a training camp where they were joined by Phil Foden, Ilkay Gundogan, John Stones and Sam Edozie, the head coach is confident that his players are primed for the big kick-off.

“The start of the season there is always a build-up of excitement. The pre-season becomes quite long and you are ready for that first competitive match no matter how good the friendlies are,” Barry-Murphy asserted.

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“We were lucky last Saturday to play against a Leeds team that had their first team manager taking the game, winning it 3-1.

“So that was a brilliant work out for us and gives us a good lead into what will undoubtedly be a very good fixture away to Liverpool.

“It obviously does not get much harder from a location point of view and the club we are facing in terms of how competitive and how good they are.

“But I think it’s probably useful in terms of our players going from the Under-18 North league to this league where the level is just up a notch.

“So, it will be really good for them to get an early look at what the level is like and to understand what it takes to compete at this level.

“That is all part of their learning journey, and this test is a perfect measure of that.”

Looking at the bigger picture, in terms of his priorities for the season ahead, Barry-Murphy was also crystal clear in terms of his remit and responsibilities to his young charges.

And he believes it could prove another unique season in terms of the challenges it presents both players and staff.

“I see it very clearly as being preparing the players for the next journey in their careers,” the former Rochdale manager went on.

“With the nature of our group we have done a lot of work looking at what it was like at the start of last season and then what it looked like at the end.

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“And now what it looks like in terms of players who are still at the club or in the first team environment or at different clubs and it’s a very transitional year where players will end up in a lot of different places at the end of it.

It’s probably different from the rest of the Academy journey where you play from Under-15s to Under-16s and then go to being a Youth player.

“This year for some of the Under 21 players, the likelihood is they will either go and make an impression in the first team or going to find the next part of their journey either on loan or in a permanent move.

“It’s a challenge in itself for the players but it means the work we do as coaches is even more important in terms of preparing guys for wide range of career paths.”

Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad take on Liverpool on Sunday 7 August. Kick-off is scheduled for 14:00 (UK). A match report will be available on mancity.com with live coverage on Twitter at @ManCityAcademy.

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