Men's Team

Guardiola hails Club's Academy after Lewis scores on full debut

Pep Guardiola has praised the work of Manchester City's Academy after Rico Lewis' full senior debut for the Club.

The 17-year-old full-back was handed his first start in senior football for Wednesday night's UEFA Champions League meeting with Sevilla at the Etihad Stadium.

He capped a special evening with a 52nd minute strike that drew Guardiola's side level and inspired a turnaround culminating in a 3-1 victory.

The Bury-born defender has been with the Club since the age of eight and is the latest talent to come through the ranks at the CFA after the likes of Phil Foden, Cole Palmer, Josh Wilson-Esbrand and James McAtee made their first team debut in recent seasons.

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After fielding four Academy graduates against Sevilla, Guardiola was keen to praise the work of the staff that develop players throughout their youth careers as well as the attitude of the players that featured this evening.

He said: "Sometimes you think you have to buy but when we can give a backup to Kyle [Walker] or Joao [Cancelo] from the Academy this is a dream come true for all of us.

"It is good for the economy and we can rely on these guys. The Academy is so important.

"They are working amazing with Jason Wilcox. Since Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden, James McAtee, Cole Palmer, there have been many, many talented players.

"The guys who want to stay here and fight for a position have a chance. If they are not patient or they listen to their agent they can leave it’s no problem. We saw the reception from our crowd.

"The people are pleased to have people from the academy playing with us. In cases of Phil, Cole, Rico and Josh, they have quality and they can help us."

Lewis was given a standing ovation after being substituted in the closing stages and Guardiola knows exactly how important local talent is to the Club's fans.

"It happens everywhere," he said.

"At Barcelona, players from the academy are something special. People love them.

"First of all it’s because they have quality, not because they love City. To have a backup in the right-back position in Rico is fantastic."