On Monday evening, Jason Wilcox’s Manchester City youth side face Chelsea in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup final. The game will be played at City’s Academy Stadium and will see some of the best young hopes in England battle for the trophy.
Both clubs have enjoyed varying levels of success this season. Chelsea beat Shakhtar Donetsk 3-2 last week to lift the UEFA Youth League trophy, City were knocked out of the same competition at the quarter-final stage. Last Thursday, City’s Under-21 side reached the semi-finals of the Premier League International Cup.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News before the game, Wilcox was keen to stress that success in the cup doesn’t mean players will be quick to break through to the first-team:
"Getting through to the final is a big achievement," he said. "But ultimately you see so many Youth Cup final teams that disappear out of the game.
"It's not about bringing a team through, it's about bringing individuals through.
"Ultimately when you've got really good players playing together who fit into a team organisation you're going to be up there and that's certainly where we are at the moment."
“Winning breeds confidence so to have a group of players coming back for this game who were crowned European champions last week [when the Under-19s won the UEFA Youth League] is a massive plus for us. Once you get a taste of winning, you want that feeling again and again.”
If Chelsea want to lift another trophy, they need to deal with a couple of City players that have impressed in the Under-21 Premier League this season.
Brandon Barker scored the winning goal as Man City beat Leicester City 2-1 in the second leg of the semi-final. The winger is enjoying a wonderful season; he has scored nine goals in both the Premier League and UEFA Youth League as well as adding another eight assists.
He is an old-fashioned winger who loves to get the ball into feet and attack down the left-wing. It will be down that side where Chelsea will have to be very careful, with left-back Angelino the other stand-out performer in both Wilcox and Patrick Vieira’s squads.
Angelino has a special left foot and is as good a defender as he is going forward. It is thought he is not far off a chance of the first-team and an inspired performance could see him earn an opportunity before the end of the season.