City’s EDS squad kick-off our 2018/19 season at home to reigning champions Arsenal at the Academy Stadium at 1pm on Saturday 11 August.
It’s the toughest possible opening assignment for the City youngsters but new manager Harsley, who took over in the role at the start of July having joined the Club from Barnsley, says the squad can’t wait to get started.
“We’re all really looking forward to the season and very excited about the first game at home to Arsenal,” said Harsley.
“For a lot of the EDS lads there was a great opportunity to spend time and train with the first team squad on the pre-season tour to America.
“So we’ve been training with our Under-18s and are just getting back to being in one group so although it was brilliant opportunity for all of the lads who went to America, so far there has been limited time for us to work as a group.
“We carry a very young squad which is great. Rather than have a team of 21-year-olds, most of the squad are 17 or 18 and we are trying to accelerate the players’ learning.
“On Saturday we are coming up against Arsenal who won the league last season so there is no tougher ask for a first game.
“There is a long season ahead of us, with different competitions, so we’ve got to take each game as it comes.
“We’ve not had a lot of match practice so far so it might take a few games for us to hit the ground running, but we’ll give it our best shot.”
Ahead of the league opener, the EDS squad travelled over to Holland last weekend for a friendly with Eredivisie outfit NAC Breda.
In an entertaining clash played in stifling temperatures, City were pipped 4-3 but the manager says it was a hugely beneficial trip for the squad.
“It was great over in Breda and we effectively played their first team,” Harsley added.
“We knew it would be a massive test physically as much as anything else, but we couldn’t have asked for any more of the players. They were brilliant, especially given the 30 degree heat!
“It was a great test and a really good experience for all the players.”