Time for Pellegrini to restore 18-year-old wonderkid to Man City squad?

Manchester City's Uefa Youth League exit means Marcos Lopes will now need games elsewhere.

And why not give him them at the top level?

The 18-year-old burst onto the scene last season when he scored for Man City in the FA Cup, while he registered two assists for Manuel Pellegrini's side against West Ham in the Capital One Cup earlier this term.

With pace, flair and a good delivery, fans took a shine to Lopes straight away, favourably comparing him to Manchester United's young sensation Adnan Januzaj.

But the Portuguese star is yet to make a Premier League appearance for City and has not played for the first team since Watford were beaten 4-2 in the FA Cup at the Etihad Stadium.

Lopes has, though, been an unused substitute for Man City in the league this season - against Norwich and Chelsea. So why not give the 18-year-old some actual game-time?

Lopes' most recent duties have seen him captain City's Uefa Youth League side, where the Portuguese forward has scored five goals in six appearances.

Manchester City's participation in the tournament, however, was cut short this week after a 2-1 quarter-final defeat to Benfica.

Lopes has no doubt benefited from working with the legendary Patrick Vieira, coach of City's youth team, but now that his side have been knocked out of the competition, the 18-year-old should be restored to Man City's senior squad.

Indeed, if Lopes' talent isn't given the chance to develop, his potential will, quite simply, remain unlocked. Granted, there is plenty of time for the Portuguese youngster to grow into a star - but the earlier he is introduced to action at the top level, the quicker he will learn.

Pellegrini doesn't have to throw him in at the deep end, of course, he could just be brought on for 20 minutes or so in a game City are winning comfortably.

And if the League Cup winners value every point they can get in their bid for the Premier League title, introducing Lopes once in a while might do their league form no harm at all. The 18-year-old would add something fresh to the side and act as an unknown quantity for opposition defences.

The site of a youngster coming up the ranks, meanwhile, might just add some extra intensity to the performances of those above him in the pecking order.

So, with Lopes no longer able to lead his side in the Uefa Youth League, why not give the forward a chance to taste some Premier League action?

It could prove a vital step in his development.

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