Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he isn’t afraid to draft young players into his first-team plans as the season progresses.
City face Huddersfield on Wednesday in their FA Cup fifth-round replay, with the winner set to meet Middlesbrough in the quarter-finals in March.
And although the City boss admits it is difficult to hand young players opportunities given the importance of City’s fixtures, he has challenged the Club’s Academy stars to force their way into the side by showing their quality on a consistent basis.
“Of course we are involved in the Academy here,” he said. “I said in the past I am pretty sure there are four or five guys who are coming through.
“It depends on them, it depends what people think, it depends on their manager, it depends on their quality.
“Always we can give a hand to play, that’s all we can do.
“Now they are being helped by the coaches in the second teams in the Academy.
“They are four or five guys, maybe more, we believe they have enough talent to help us in the future and we will be delighted. But it depends on them and depends on their quality.”
Aleix Garcia, Pablo Maffeo, Angelino, Brahim Diaz and Tosin Adarabioyo have all been given a taste of first-team action this season having played significant roles in preseason games - but, as yet, none has managed to cement a place in Guardiola’s starting XI.
Guardiola, who established a reputation during his time at Barcelona as a manager who gives youngsters chances, admits it’s difficult for him to hand them regular starting places given the depth in City’s squad - but insists opportunities are available for the most talented young players.
“Pre-season is pre-season,” he said. “We get to know each other and there were people who weren’t here. It is normal [for young players] to play more regularly.
“Now we have had a few injured – tough, tough injuries like [Ilkay] Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus but with the other ones, we have had not too many injuries. That’s why it is not easy to play in the big games.
“The Champions League stage is always so complicated and the Premier League we start quite well but we are now in a position where every game is a final. So you miss two games in the Premier League, you will be fifth and sixth position. When you miss in the Champions League or the FA Cup you are out. Now it is a final every game.
“But they have to continue because I am a guy who I am not afraid to put the people on the pitch – but they have to convince me - in every single training session, in every game – I can trust them”