EDS & Academy

Harsley: Confidence crucial in Croatia

INSTRUCTIONS: Paul Harsley on the sideline against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Paul Harsley is hoping confidence can be the catalyst for victory in City U19s’ must win UEFA Youth League game against Dinamo Zagreb.

Our Elite Development Squad (EDS) go into our final Group C fixture one point behind the second-placed Croatians, meaning there is a knockout feel to Wednesday morning’s clash (kick-off 12noon UK).

A win would see the City youngsters leapfrog Dinamo to qualify for the playoff round, where they would face one of the winners from the Domestic Champions Path for a place in the last 16.

It is as pressurised a situation as could be, but Harsley hopes his players will be buoyed by recent wins in similar circumstances against Shakhtar Donetsk and Shrewsbury Town.

"We’ve got a bit of confidence now," he said.

“It was really tough going in the changing room after defeats and looking at the stats – I know games aren’t won on paper – and thinking how have we lost that one.

“You’ve just got to keep going and we’ve all done that.

“We’ll put a team out we think can go there and win. Hopefully the lads will have that confidence."

WATCH: City 5-0 Shakhtar: UEFA Youth League highlights

Who Harsley can include in his starting XI remains to be seen.

Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis both played in last month’s 5-0 win over Shakhtar but could well be unavailable at Stadion Hitrec Kacian after being named in Pep Guardiola’s travelling squad for the first team fixture.

Whilst the Spaniard has made the bench for three senior European ties this season, Harwood-Bellis’ inclusion would be the next step in what’s been a fruitful year for the 17-year-old’s development.

He made his debut against Preston North End in the Carabao Cup and Harsley said first team recognition is a deserved reward for his efforts in the EDS.

“He’s had an unbelievable year or so,” Harsley added.

“We came in and he was just starting his scholarship and within 18 months he’s played for Pep Guardiola. That’s incredible.

“He knuckles down and gives everything he’s got in every game and you can see what he brings to the team.”

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