Manchester City winger Ian Carlo Poveda says he will not let the occasion get the better of him when he faces his former club Barcelona in the semi-final of the UEFA Youth League.
Poveda, who was on the books at Barça’s La Masia academy between 2012 and 2014, is determined to focus on the job at hand when he faces his old teammates at the Colvoray Stadium in Nyon, Switzerland.
“It’ll be a tough match obviously,” said 18-year-old, who’s impressed for both City and at international level with England recently.
“I’m excited, everyone’s excited for the game. We’re playing well and I believe we’re very confident going into the semi-final.
“I think everyone’s confident in their abilities.
“I know the majority of their players as I used to play with them back in the day.
“But I don’t think it will be strange [to face my old teammates], I have a job to do and that’s to perform well and that’s what I’m going to do.”
City reached the semi-final of the competition after winning a breath-taking penalty shoot-out 4-3 against Liverpool at the Academy Stadium.
But Poveda is keen to note that Simon Davies’ side cannot bask in former glories if they are to reach the final.
“I think we’ve done very well. Obviously, we’ve made history and I think everyone’s really proud about that but we’ve got to go again,” he explained.
“We can’t make history and dwell on it and say ‘our job’s done’. Our job is always to win and hopefully we will be able to against Barcelona and go on to win the Youth League. That’s what everyone has in mind.
“Right now, Barcelona are ahead of us so we’re just concentrating on that game, step by step, day by day.”
The former Arsenal and Brentford prospect has made a successful transition from the under-18s to the under-19s and latterly the under-23s this season, and Poveda says it’s all down to hard graft – with some help along the way.
“At the start it went a bit of downhill as I got injured,” the London-born winger said.
“I fractured my collar bone but I just worked hard and they gave me the opportunity to come with the under-23s.
“The team appreciates the help of the staff who put extra hours on, we couldn’t really do it without them to be honest.
“I believe I’ve been performing well so hopefully I can keep it up and keep working hard.
“Obviously the under-23s is more physical so it’s the physical side that I’ve noticed. But I think I’ve coped really well.
“I see myself as a technical player so I try and not to get in situations where I have to make too much contact with other players.
“But, obviously, football’s a contact sport so I’ve been working hard in the gym to get stronger and improve that aspect of my game.”