EDS & Academy

Egan-Riley excited by Tranmere test - and the return of fans!

Egan-Riley excited by Tranmere test - and the return of fans!
CJ Egan-Riley says City’s Under-21 are eagerly looking forward to the twin challenge of Tuesday night’s Papa John’s Trophy Round of 32 clash at Tranmere – and the return of fans to football.

With Rovers’ Birkenhead-based Prenton Park ground being in Tier 2 of England’s tiered regions, it has opened the way to fans returning to the League Two ground with 2,000 being allowed to attend tonight's fixture after a similar number attended last weekend league game with Walsall.

It has added an extra frisson to a game that already had plenty riding on it with a place in the last 16 awaiting the winners.

City’s youngsters shone during the group stages, topping our table after victories at Mansfield and Scunthorpe and an impressive draw at Lincoln which was followed by a narrow penalty shoot-out loss.

And Egan-Riley said the fact that he and his colleagues will be able to play in front of supporters again – albeit with the majority cheering for the home team – for the first time in nine months will be hugely significant.

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“Even though they will be mostly opposition fans, I’m buzzing to have fans in the stadium after all these months. It will be a positive for everyone to have that atmosphere and a bit of buzz around the stadium,” said the young defender.

“At the start when we first came back after lockdown and there were only members of the coaching staff watching games it was hard as, normally, you like to hear the crowd. It was completely different.

“As the games have gone on, we have got used to it and brought even more energy through how we play rather than from the fans.

WATCH: Scunthorpe United 0-4 City U21s: EFL Trophy highlights

“But the fans are a big part of what we do.

“We want to entertain and win for them and hopefully we can soon have them back at the Academy Stadium. Having them back there would be really good for us.”

The Papa John’s Trophy is a competition that has brought the best out of City in recent years and this season has been no different.

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Enzo Maresca’s side, who have risen in fine fashion to top spot in Premier League 2, have been equally impressive when pitted against senior league opposition away from home.

And Egan-Riley says the nature of the challenge is one that he relishes.

“Everyone’s buzzing for the Tranmere game. This is a big competition for us as we get to face men’s teams so it’s a lot different to the league,” the 17-year-old added.

WATCH: Mansfield 0-3 City Under-21s: EFL Trophy highlights

“In this competition, its big as it gives us a taste of men’s football which is good and what we all need.

“You find they do different stuff – they have been in the game a long time. It’s good learning to play against bigger and older men. It’s a different challenge and one that we like.

“We have had three good games in the group stage, and we did very well in them.

“Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the season so far. As a squad we’ve really kicked on, but we’ve got a lot more to come and its onwards and upwards and we want to try and carry on being successful.”

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