Teenage central defenders Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis were both handed starting berths at Deepdale by Pep Guardiola, with 17-year-old Harwood-Bellis making an assured first team debut.
Meanwhile 18-year Spanish winger Adrian Bernabe came on as a second half substitute with Alpha Dionkou also named on the bench as we began the defence of our Carabao Cup crown in fine fashion
With our Under-21s also shining as we recorded a fine 2-1 win away at League Two Bradford City to book our place in the last 32 of the Leasing.com Trophy, it made for memorable evening for the Club as a whole.
“I think it was a great evening for the Academy all round,” said Harsley. “Nights like that are all we can hope for.
READ: Bradford 1-2 City Under 21s | Doyle seals EFL Trophy triumph
WATCH: Preston North End 0-3 City | Extended highlights
“Obviously with us winning and getting through to the knockout stages but, just as importantly, seeing Eric and Taylor playing together at centre back for the first team and Adrian getting on as well.
“Everything we work for has come together on one night, so we have to enjoy occasions like that, and I am so pleased for everyone connected.
“It’s brilliant because the manager (Pep) is more than willing to give the lads an opportunity.
“He saw them on the pre-season tour to Asia, he sees them with us, and he sees them in training, and it makes everyone proud.
“When we see a result like last night’s and the lads playing for the first team it’s magnificent.”
The flip side of the fillip of seeing so many youngsters as part of the first team squad at Deepdale was that Harsley went even younger with his own selection for the testing trip to the Utilita Energy Stadium.
However, his players more than answered the challenge against opponents who were physically stronger and boasted far greater experience.
And the boss believes the manner of the performance and victory spoke volumes as to the strong bond and spirit running through the EDS.
“We went even younger at Bradford and had young Sammy Robinson out there and he was great and it’s something we embrace,” Harsley added.
“The lads did really well. We knew what was coming from Bradford after watching them.
READ: Adrian Bernabe inspired by David Silva
WATCH: Kevin De Bruyne | Mini Me
“Obviously, it’s a style of play which our lads aren’t used to, but it was brilliant to come to Bradford and play the way we did.
“We were put under a bit of pressure, but I thought we controlled the majority of the game and the last 10 minutes they had a go which was to be expected but I again thought we defended it well.
“I keep saying that sometimes results don’t go our way but what we are here for is to keep pushing these lads on and we are getting different experiences week in, week out and it’s all we can ask for.
“Everyone is striving to get better and everyone is striving to get lads in the first team picture so Tuesday was a really good day all round.”