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Bolton: These are the games you live for

BLUE BOY: Luke Bolton trains ahead of the UEFA Youth League final.

BLUE BOY: Luke Bolton trains ahead of the UEFA Youth League final.

Luke Bolton doesn’t even allow the entire question to be asked.

There’s no doubt in his mind as to whether Manchester City U19s can beat Barcelona in the UEFA Youth League semi-final.

“Definitely,” is the unequivocal response.

“We can definitely beat them.  They’re a good side but we’ve got more than enough in our team to beat them.

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“We play similar football and have similar philosophies, but I think we’ve got the edge over them, maybe physically and also tactically.

“These are the games you live for.

“They’re Barcelona and they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t a good side, so we’ve got to respect them, but we’re hungry for success.”

Respect has been a word mentioned repeatedly in the build-up to this game and rightly so, Barcelona have conceded only one goal in the UEFA Youth League.

But Simon Davies’ side are in no way overawed and there’s a collective belief that they can secure a spot in the final.

For Bolton, a boyhood Blue, it’s the stuff of dreams.

“As a fan, it means a lot,” he explained.

“I want to win things for this club and this is a special experience, playing the best teams in Europe, for the club I’ve supported all my life, it’s massive.

“There’ll be a crowd there and it’s about proving what we can do. We know we can beat anyone on our day.

“We just need to be honest and work hard.”

2018

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Training: U19s complete Barcelona preparations

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In that department, Bolton will likely lead by example, with his tireless work-rate on either flank a trademark of his game and crucial to the high pressing style Davies employs.

In a sun-drenched Switzerland, that could be vital, which is why, despite the frustration of missing nearly seven months of the season due to injury, the England junior can appreciate that this is a good time of the year to be feeling fresher than normal.

“I’m feeling strong and very motivated,” he adds with enthusiasm.

“It’s hard being away from football. No-one likes running on their own, they’re very hard sessions, especially when the lads are having a laugh.

“I’d like to have been back earlier and I don’t really want the season to end because I think I’m in good form.

“Most of the lads have had more minutes than me so I’m probably fresher than most and I feel like I’m definitely making up for lost time.

“Seven months out on and off… it’s been frustrating, but games like this are why you stay focused when you’re with the physio.”

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Stepping it up in the sun

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Garcia putting friendships on hold for semi-final

FAMILIAR FACES: Eric Garcia will face his old club Barcelona in the UEFA Youth League semi-final.

On the eve of a UEFA Youth League semi-final, Eric Garcia admits even he didn’t expect his first season at Manchester City to go quite so well.

The young defender will face his old club Barcelona in Switzerland.

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Switzerland here we come!