James McAtee says the close bonds which bind City’s new-look EDS group could prove a crucial weapon in our collective armoury this season.

Many of the players – McAtee included – in Enzo Maresca’s exciting group have made the step up to Under-23s football from last season’s highly successful Under-18s side.

That squad lifted both the Under-18 Premier League national title as well as securing the Under-18 Premier League Cup for a second successive campaign.

Despite the frustration of last Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Derby in our PL2 season opener which saw City concede two goals in the last four minutes, there have been numerous positives already from the EDS group – not least McAtee’s two goals and fine all-round display last weekend.

CITY+ | Sign up to access exclusive City content

For his part, the attacking midfielder believes the spirit and closeness within the group can prove key factors in the squad’s drive for collective success this term.

“There’s a good connection within the group which obviously helps and hopefully we can improve and as a group kick on from what we did last year (with the Under-18s),” McAtee declared.

“For me, it’s about trying to learn and improve with each game I play.

“Playing in the Premier League 2 is a big step up from Under-18s level – for me I’m trying to focus on playing my own game and doing what I can do.

“The pace of the game is faster, and the opposition are bigger and stronger so I’ve tried to adapt in the best way I can.

“I’m just trying to get goals and help the team out and also make an impact off the ball.”

Next up for the EDS is a trip to tackle Blackburn Rovers this Friday night. And McAtee admits the players will be doubly determined after the frustration of seeing the Rams’ late comeback deny us what would have been a deserved three points.

SUBSCRIBE | To the official Manchester City Podcast

“All the boys were a bit upset and frustrated with how the game finished on Saturday, but we can’t do anything about that now. We have to focus on the next game,” McAtee admitted.

“It’s a lesson for us all I think about trying to see the game out.

“I know the lads will be raring to go at Blackburn and we will try and prove ourselves and get the win.”

For his part looking from a wider context, following a five month lay-off for the Academy due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, McAtee says the return to competitive action has merely helped to reinforce his own passion and appreciation for the game.

“Just being able to play again is the best feeling ever after being out of action for so long,” the 17-year-old admitted.

“It’s just so good to be back out on the pitch and playing again.

“It probably does make you appreciate the game more.

“Everyone was really hungry to get going again on our first day back after lockdown and now we’re just looking forward to playing games.”