Dedryck Boyata reckons playing regularly in front of Shay Given will bring his game on leaps and bounds.
The 19-year-old Belgian defender has featured in all four of Roberto Mancini’s squads so far and admits he is still pinching himself that he’s played alongside the likes of Given and fellow countryman Vincent Kompany in recent weeks.
Now he is hoping to earn a place in the squad travelling to Goodison Park this weekend so he can further his education.
“Shay’s always helping me,” he said. “It’s funny because I’ve watched him on TV over the years and more recently during World Cup qualification play-off between Ireland and France.
I never imagined I’d get the chance to play in the same team as him so soon.
...Dedryck on lining up in front of Shay...
Typically, Boyata is keeping his feet firmly on the ground, though. He added: “It’s fantastic to play in the first-team but I’m not kidding myself that I’ve had this chance because we’ve been a little short of defenders recently.
“All I can do is work hard and do my best each time I play. The great thing for me is that Shay is one of the best in the world and with his experience and knowledge of the game it can only help me improve as a player.
“He’s always shouting, encouraging and organising - and when he says something, I listen! As a defender, it gives you great confidence to relax and play your normal game.”
Boyata has also revealed the secrets behind Roberto Mancini’s flying start at City. Just one goal conceded in four games is a vast improvement on the four games before he took charge during which the Blues conceded 10 goals.
“We’ve been working more on team shape and working in teams,” he said.
“Defenders will work with defenders, midfielders with midfielders and so on and we also concentrate more on tactics – and it’s working so far with four wins and only one goal conceded.”