Alex Nimely has hailed manager Roberto Mancini’s policy of promoting Academy graduates to the first team since his arrival last December.
Nimely is one of seven youngsters to have been given a taste of first-team action - either playing or on the bench - by the City boss, and the Liberian-born striker says it has sent a wave of optimism throughout both the reserve team and Academy squads.
“It’s unbelievable that, at such a crucial time of the season and considering what is at stake for the club and our hopes of getting to where we want to be, the manager still has faith to play untried youngsters,” said Nimely.
“He has shown great belief in so many of us and he is willing to give everyone at the club a chance if he thinks they are good enough and will work hard for him – that’s all you can ask for as a player.
I believe if we can finish fourth, there will probably be even more chances for the younger players next season, too
Nimely made his debut as an 83rd-minute substitute for Carlos Tevez at Burnley earlier this month and admits he was honoured to replace one of his heroes and a player he admires greatly.
“George Weah is a genuine legend back home in Liberia and he is a hero to most people in my country,” he said.
“But of all the great strikers we have at the club at the moment, I’d have to say Carlos Tevez is just brilliant and I watch him closely in training whenever I can. He never stops working and is a great source of inspiration to young strikers.”
Of his debut at Turf Moor, Nimely says he was dreading the deluge would curtail the chance of him coming on which, with the Blues leading comfortably, he knew was a distinct possibility.
“Shaun Wright-Phillips was sat next to me and he said he reckoned the referee was going to call the game off at any second. I told him not to say that because this was my chance to make my debut,” he laughed.
“I was praying that the ref let it continue because I desperately wanted to play. Thankfully, he did and everything turned out well, even if I was considering putting my water-wings on before I came on!
“I was a little nervous, but there wasn’t too much pressure because we were already 6-1 ahead. When I went on, Emmanuel Adebayor said I should just play my normal game, and that’s what I did. It was a dream come true.”