What should City do with promising Championship starlets?
By Guest writer, Wed 27 April 2022 15:08
Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Tommy Doyle have both thrived on loan this season
Manchester City loaned out several of their rising starlets to the lower tiers of English football along with a number of international clubs. City will no doubt have the top that these players are ready to return to the ranks next season to aid the squad depth that has been tested at times in the current campaign. Pep Guardiola will have the chance to run the rule over their progress and determine whether it has been time well spent for the starlets. We’ll now look at two players that could be of interest next term.
Harwood-Bellis was sent out on loan to Anderlecht for the first six months of the 2021/22 campaign and fared well before returning to Manchester in January. He then left for Stoke on loan until the end of the season in the hope of inspiring the Potters on a run to the Premier League. In January, Stoke harboured ambitions of a surge towards automatic promotion or at least the playoffs, which they were solid contenders for in the odds for Championship Betting with Paddy Power at the time. However, a poor run of form after the arrival of Harwood-Bellis resulted in a drop down the table, costing Michael O’Neill’s men a chance at promotion.
Despite the setback, the performances of Harwood-Bellis have been encouraging, allowing the Potters to keep four clean sheets in a run of six matches between March and April. The 20-year-old has shown maturity beyond his years in a youthful team, although he has had the opportunity to play alongside Phil Jagielka. The experience has provided the defender with a vital grounding in English football.
Guardiola must now decide whether he is ready to play a part with his squad next term. Ruben Dias, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake are seemingly in his way, but he could be important in allowing them to rest for cup matches at the least. There are clubs interested in his services, including Premier League sides, which prompt City to cash in on an asset.
Doyle was another player that was initially loaned out overseas to Hamburg at the start of the campaign, but a lack of game time prompted a return and a loan move to Cardiff. Doyle has flourished under the tenure of Steve Morison, despite the Bluebirds' struggles at the bottom end of the Championship. Doyle has been a vital cog in the middle of the park to keep Cardiff adrift. After 17 matches at the club, the 20-year-old notched two goals and three assists, earning plenty of praise from all parties for the quality of his displays. The England Under-21 international has certainly raised his profile in the second tier, but whether he can raise his game to start in the Premier League is another matter.
City have an embarrassment of riches in the midfield, and unless Doyle is ready to challenge for a starting spot then it might be best to send him out on loan again. He could ease the burden on Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva to save their legs at times in the campaign, but his game time would be limited. Guardiola faces a tough decision regarding Doyle’s immediate future.