EDS & Academy

Luke Bolton: City will maintain Checkatrade focus

Luke Bolton says Manchester City’s Under-21s won’t be distracted by talk of a potential Wembley appearance as the squad gears up for a Checkatrade Trophy quarter-final.

Bolton skippered the young Blues to a memorable 4-2 win away at Rochdale in a dramatic last 16 clash at the Crown Oil Arena on Tuesday.

The victory put City through to the last eight and just two rounds away from a trip to Wembley.

However, Bolton says the squad won’t allow themselves to be distracted and he says the priority instead is on ensuring the Blues don’t find themselves chasing the game as happened at Rochdale and in the previous round away at Barnsley.

“Those are the sort of games you play for. It was such a great experience and great feeling at the end,” Bolton reflected ahead of Thursday night's quarter-final draw.

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“There were a lot of our fans there which gave us that extra energy. You obviously want to win for yourselves but when so many of our supporters are there giving that backing, as there were at Rochdale, it means even more.

“Everyone keeps mentioning Wembley but we’re all just looking forward to the next game and we will continue to work hard.

“As the rounds go on, we need to make sure that we start games quicker. Against Barnsley we came from behind and on Tuesday it was tough for us early on.

“So, I think going forward we’ve got to make sure that we start better.

“It was a hard game and Rochdale were on fire early on and we just weren’t at it.

“We got told that at half-time and I don’t think you could ask for more than the reaction that the lads gave.”

Bolton helped spark the Blues’ revival by claiming a classic poachers’ goal early in the second half after intercepting the ball as the Rochdale keeper sought to play out from the back before converting from a narrow angle.

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The introduction of 16-year-old substitute Jayden Braaf then further inspired City’s comeback with the winger claiming two goals before Taylor Richards rounded off a stunning comeback with a late header.

And Bolton said Braaf’s dramatic impact came as no surprise.

“We see Jayden’s talents on the training ground,” Bolton added. “He’s only a young lad but he’s a great one-on-one specialist and can get at people.

“He can go down the line or inside and he showed that on Tuesday.”