EDS & Academy

Harsley targets early European success

City’s Under-19s launch our UEFA Youth League campaign away to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday with manager Paul Harsley urging his young side to hit the ground running.

After being semi-finalists in 2017/18, the City youngsters had a frustrating time of it last season, missing out on progressing through to the knockout stages.

That has left Harsley and his squad doubly determined to impress this time round.

And as we prepare to kick-off against the familiar foes of Shakhtar, whom we meet for the third season running, the EDS boss stressed the importance of getting off to a positive start.  

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“We were disappointed about Europe last season and it’s something we want to do better in,” said Harsley.

“If we look back to last year there were so many fine margins with great saves, last minute goals and what have you.

“Having played them for the past two seasons, we know what Shakhtar is like. It’s an eye opener over there and very different to what we have over here.

“When we went over there last season, we dominated the game. We had 33 shots, they had two - and we ended up drawing 1-1 thanks to a last-minute goal.

Felix Nmecha was sent off and it was strange game all round.

“But now it’s a fresh campaign and really we want to hit the ground running and to make the best start we can.”

Aside from Shakhtar, City’s youngsters will also take on Italians Atalanta and Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia in an intriguing-looking group.

And Harsley said the challenge of the tackling top European opposition helped provide another vital step in the City youngsters and development.

“Our other two games against Atalanta and Dinamo Zagreb will be brand new experiences and it’s a fresh campaign for us all,” Harsley added.

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“Professionally it's nice to test your mettle against European opposition.

“A lot of the teams are physical and tend to play with a high tempo but, hopefully, another year down the line we can get more points on the board.

“And looking at the players from last year who have really developed like Eric (Garcia) and Ian (Carlo Poveda) as well as lads like Rabbi Matondo and Jeremie Frimpong who have moved on and brought in money for the Club, I think it proves it (the UEFA Youth League) has been good.

“There have been a lot of positives from lads pushing on.”

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