Simon Davies hailed the talent in the Manchester City Academy after a much-changed U19s side drew with a Feyenoord outfit he believes have been the Blues’ toughest European opponents.
With the likes of Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz with the first team and having already qualified for the last 16 of the UEFA Youth League, Davies made seven changes to the team that started against Napoli.
In came Curtis Anderson and Ash Kigbu, while Sadou Diallo also returned to the starting line-up and Davies felt they more than justified their inclusion against a well-drilled Feyenoord.
“It was a slightly mixed group and they were a bit rusty at the start, but we blended eventually.
“We gave other players an opportunity and it was a great experience for Curtis in his first UEFA Youth League game and for Ash, who’s been out for quite a long time.
“It was really good to give them an opportunity and to see if they could grab it.
“It’s good that we’ve got this progression of players coming through – that conveyor belt of talent – it pushes other players on and keeps the pressure on.”
It was a tight affair at the Academy Stadium.
Feyenoord were twice denied by the woodwork and with City boasting a 100% record going into the tie, Davies acknowledged that this was a game in which they were forced to work for a point.
“I thought it was quite an even game, but they probably have tested us more than anyone.
“We won 2-0 away, but even that was difficult.
“They were very well organised and I thought we could have moved the ball a little quicker at times.
“When we don’t do that and they are as organised as they were, it makes it difficult to penetrate at times.
The visitors enjoyed their best spell in the first half, but the young Blues grew into the game, not least because of the introduction of Iker Pozo as Davies added an extra man in midfield.
He was impressed with the Spaniard and also with how his side dominated play in the latter stages.
“I thought in the second half the press was a lot better because we put more pressure on their centre half who was stepping out with the ball.
“We wanted to control the ball in midfield more and I thought Iker was excellent when he came on. He’s a really classy player, very strong technically and he allows us to play through teams.
“It was a good lesson for us today, but I thought we controlled the game an awful lot in the second half."