EDS & Academy

Harwood-Bellis points to positives in wake of Papa John's Trophy exit

NO GO: Romeo Lavia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis put the squeeze on Tranmere
Taylor Harwood-Bellis believes there are numerous positives for our Under-21s to draw on in spite of Tuesday’s Papa John’s Trophy Round of 32 exit at Tranmere Rovers.

Despite producing another fine display at Prenton Park, Enzo Maresca’s side – who were reduced to 10-men on the hour after the dismissal of Luke Mbete – lost out to a decisive 88th minute penalty.

It was a frustrating way to go out but reflecting on both the game and this season’s competition as a whole, Harwood-Bellis, who skippered City at Tranmere, said he and his colleagues had gained much from their collective experiences.

“It’s obviously hard to take but we are a young side and just got to learn from it and we go again in the league at the weekend with a massive game in the derby,” declared Harwood-Bellis who earlier this week signed a new long-term contract with City.

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“I thought the lads were great in the performance going down to 10 men and then grinding it out for so long.

“Even after the penalty we had some chances in the end but in the first half I thought we were dominant and the same in the first 10 minutes of the second half but it makes it hard when you go down to 10 men.

“We can take some positives from the game and everyone was proud in the dressing room afterwards.

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“Every year we go into the competition with no fear and play how we’ve set up and our tactics are always spot on.

“So, every time we play in the EFL Trophy we do well as we play good football as we’ve got the heart and stomach to do it against men and it’s a big credit to the lads.

“Playing in the competition is massive for me. I really enjoy it playing against the big strikers and playing against top teams like Tranmere.

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“It improves my game massively as it does with all the lads. Playing against first team opponents makes you tougher as a player.”

There’s still plenty to play for Enzo Maresca’s players with our EDS side currently top of the Premier League 2 standings and with the Europa Youth League also to look forward to next year.

And Harwood-Bellis said there was no lack of incentive for the squad looking to the remainder of the campaign.

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“There’s two big competitions (the PL2 and Europe),” the central defender added.

“The league is in our hands. We’re top at the moment and we’ve got to make sure we stay there and win our games.

“Europe will also be massive for us next year and we need to do well against the best teams in Europe and show everyone that Man City are up there with the best.”

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