Academy midfielder David Brooks is determined to prove that slight physical stature is not a barrier to making the grade at the highest level.
While Brooks may not possess the build of some of his teammates and opponents, his vision, technique and ability to cut through the most robust of defences have more than compensated, and the talented 17-year-old has been impressing City coaches for more than a decade.
A quick glance at the City first team squad shows that size really does not always matter, and this youngster is fortunate to be able to learn from one of his idols at close quarters.
David revealed: “I look up to David Silva or Juan Mata, players like that, because they are small like me but they move the ball well and don’t lose it very often. It’s more about their technical ability, they don’t have to get involved with the physical battles, and they keep the ball well so they don’t have to use so much physical strength.”
Now approaching the end of his first year as a City scholar, he has found his pitch time limited, but the confident youngster knows that the Academy staff, including under-18s Head Coach Jason Wilcox, have his long term development at the forefront of their plans.
“Because I am one of the smaller ones I still need to develop physically,” Brooks explained. “It’s been a slow season when it comes to playing time, but I think as the strength comes I will start getting more games.
“For my development, I think Jason has been really good. Obviously I want to be playing but I think he has left me out of the squad to allow me to develop more physically, and not get injured or get myself into battles that I won’t really win. I have had a spell out just doing gym work and getting stronger, so I think he has done the best for me even though I’m not getting much football.”
And a first taste of life as a full time footballer has revealed to Brooks that a career in the game relies on a lot more than 90 minutes of action on a Saturday: “This year has really shown me that not all your development takes place on the pitch and it’s not all about the playing time, you develop off the field as well.
“Playing is a lot of it, but there is also the analysis side of it and you need to take it all in. This year it’s more spread out, rather than just training two days a week, and there is more time to focus on fitness and technical work to put all aspects of the game into your training programme.”
While domestic chances may have been sporadic, Brooks was selected to travel to Abu Dhabi earlier this year as part of a City under-17s squad to compete in a competitive and prestigious tournament. The challenges of extreme heat and an unfamiliar environment were unlikely to faze the young playmaker, who had already shone in foreign climes at the 2012 Lion City Cup in Singapore.
He recalled: “When we went to Singapore it was a proper tournament - we had an open evening, they gave Man of the Match awards, and there were lots of fans there too so it was a really good experience. It was a great tournament, and City give you great opportunities to go abroad and see the rest of the world.
“I scored our first goal, which was one of my best memories playing for City. We were abroad, it was a big tournament and in front of all those fans, so I was buzzing to score first.”
The pint-sized Brooks has been a City player for nearly all of his footballing life, starting off in the satellite squad before signing on at the youngest age group, under-9s, and has witnessed the changes that the last few years have brought to all levels of the club.
But while some may be eager to point out that it is now harder for David and his peers to make the breakthrough into Manuel Pellegrini’s first team squad, he is quick to emphasise the benefits on offer for all those lucky enough to be a part of the academy system.
He argued: “Because of the quality of the first team now I think it is harder to get in, but when you’re in the academy you improve more because of the quality of the coaching, video analysis, everything like that which has been added in the last few years.
“So while it might be harder to get in the first team, we have been given much greater opportunities to improve as players in the academy and reach that required standard.”