Steven McInerney takes a look at City's young players ahead of the start of the UEFA Youth League
Ahead of the big kick off for the Uefa Youth League tomorrow, I thought it'd be a good idea to profile all the players involved in the squad. All 30-odd of them. A mammoth task, admittedly, especially given the vast nature of the flexible squad boundaries, but a worthy one. There's a few players I've not seen yet in the flesh, but as ever, I've done what I can. Either way, just browsing through the squad makes for exciting, interesting reading. It really is a diverse, talented group. After last season's efforts, where City frequently dazzled, winning a perfect six from six in the group stages, including drubbings handed out to Roma and Bayern, 4-0 and 6-0 respectively, City will want the u19s to go further than the quarters this year. There's certainly the talent there. It's a squad absolutely bursting at the seams with ability. Perhaps the best we've had in years at youth level, with every possible approach covered by the flexibility of those involved. There's options galore and it'll be interesting to see just who exactly lines up tomorrow when the game kicks off.
In goal it's an easy one - Angus Gunn, a sure fire future England number one if there ever was one, will surely start between the sticks. A complete keeper, only lacking experience before he inevitably gives Joe Hart a run for his money. His understudies will be the Norwegian youth international, Kjeti Haug and Daniel Grimshaw. The former was a regular for the u18s last year before he moved up to the EDS, with Grimshaw his replacement and the current u18s keeper of choice. Both are confident, capable keepers who will ably step in if required. Defensively, there's a whole host of options. We're blessed in the centre of defence. The budding partnership between Humphreys and Adarabioyo needs no introduction. An exceptionally talented pair - both grew in confidence and stature last year at a remarkable rate, leading to Humphreys' inclusion in the first team tour at the tender age of 16. Adarabioyo is a leader, a tall elegant warrior of a defender, impossibly composed too. U18s regulars Oliver and Kigbu are further exciting prospects. The former a tough, old school centre-half, strong and committed in the tackle - likewise Kigbu, who aggressively defends on the front-foot, all pace, power and tenacity. There's shades of Mangala there. The intelligent and assured first year scholar, Joe Coveney, will provide further cover in the centre, though he's equally capable of slotting in anywhere across the back.
Either side of the centre-backs, the excellent Maffeo will surely hold down the right back slot. Given his deserved proximity to the first team squad this year, it's a no-brainer - he's a leader too and his natural confidence will make him one of the more senior members of the squad. Behind him the ever-improving Callum Bullock is the obvious standby, especially given his increasingly impressive performances, notably his most recent this weekend for the u18s. The left-back role is a little more open. Seeing as Angelino isn't around and Ash Smith-Brown is over-age, it leaves a gap for an u18 player. My guess would be Demeaco Duhaney, a player who's started the year impeccably for the u18s - extremely comfortable technically and equally capable with either foot, he's very much a modern full-back. He's strong too, adept defensively and a real battler. Lewis Blackshaw, another first year scholar, will provide competition. A slight, whippet of a defender, his energy is boundless and he's impressed with his intelligence and movement whenever he's been afforded time this year. The recently signed Eirik Sarmiento, a Spanish youth international, is nominally a left-back too according to one of his team-mates, though I can't profess to know much about him.
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