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Harsley: EDS squad primed for Crewe test

ALL SMILES: The City players celebrate during the Premier League 2 victory over Derby

ALL SMILES: The City players celebrate during the Premier League 2 victory over Derby

Paul Harsley wants his EDS squad to take the confidence from Saturday’s excellent Premier League 2 win over Derby into Tuesday’s second Checkatrade Trophy group clash away at Crewe.

After a tough couple of weeks for an EDS squad that has been hit hard by a succession of injuries to key personnel, City’s youngsters married poise with passion in securing a deserved 3-2 victory over a vastly more experienced Derby side.

Now, the manager is hoping his young charges can maintain that approach at Gresty Road on Tuesday where City will seek to overcome their League Two opponents.

Alex are top of Group D after winning their opening clash against Tranmere. City meanwhile drew their first encounter 1-1 at Shrewsbury before then losing a penalty shoot-out.

However, Harsley wants his players to build on the way they stayed strong in overcoming the Rams.

READ: Manchester City EDS 3-2 Derby U23s | Match report

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“It was a really pleasing result for the lads,” said the manager. “We played very well in the first half and kept the ball off them and frustrated them.

“The second half was a bit nervy near the end but that result was something we all needed after a couple of tough weeks.

“That said, we created a host of chances despite losing away at Tottenham and in the Uefa Youth League game against Lyon - at 2-1 down we should have scored and then it would have been a different game. 

“We have been really tough on the players. We have been working them hard and we go again on Tuesday at Crewe in the Checkatrade and then go to Swansea in the league next weekend, then Hoffenheim.

“Hopefully we can kick on Tuesday and then see where we are.”

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Harsley was also full of credit for the way a largely inexperienced squad have stood up both physically and mentally with last weekend’s Derby side featuring a number of players with first-team experience.

“It was another good challenge for them and they had to withstand some strong pressure,” Harsley added.

“Again, for one reason or another, we were without nine players and that’s a heck of a number so full credit to all the lads who played on Saturday.

“We had young Taylor Harwood-Bellis at 16 playing at the back, Alpha Diounkou who is 16 also in defence and Henri Ogunby coming on as a substitute who is just 17.

“It’s great for their learning and Taylor will have never played in a game like that.

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“It’s hard as culturally as many of the lads are from a lot of different places, but I thought on Saturday I thought the back four and ‘keeper were all fantastic in their commitment, putting their bodies on the line.

“The developmental side of it is everything but results go a long way to back that up and they give the lads confidence.

“We are going to take some knocks along the way and we know that because of the age of our squad, we will have some difficult games.

“But we also know we have the quality there that can win us some games so it’s about consistency and finding the right path for all the players.”

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