Is Manchester City's investment in youth starting to deliver rewards?

Etihad Stadium

Is Manchester City's investment into their youth set-up finally paying off following the debut of George Evans in midweek?

Since the Abu Dhabi takeover seven years ago, vast resources have been poured into ensuring Manchester City have one of the best youth set-ups in world football.

City are now beginning to see their hard work and endeavours deliver rewards, with George Evans becoming only the second player to represent the club at every age group from the Under 8s through to the first team.

Highly-rated midfielder Evans made his debut as a late substitute in the midweek Capital One Cup win over Sunderland, in what has been a 14-year journey for the lifelong City fan to reach the top after joining the club as a six-year-old.

The victory at Sunderland also saw fellow youngsters Patrick Roberts and Manuel Garcia make their debuts for Manuel Pellegrini's men, but Evans' bow was something special for everyone connected with the club, having worked his way up through the youth ranks.

Roberts arrived at City from Fulham in a big-money deal in the summer, while City snapped up Garcia from Sporting Gijon in 2014.

City, like many of their Premier League rivals, are battling it out to sign the best young talent at home and abroad, and the cash reserves at the Etihad Stadium mean they can compete with any of the world's powerhouses.

Despite the huge outlay on luring the best talent from around the globe to their new Academy training campus, City are seemingly intent on starting a conveyor belt of home-reared talent which will eventually filter into the first-team.

Being a teenager in City's star-studded academy must be a daunting prospect for those trying to make their way in the game, but Evans' rise shows if you are good enough, you can work your way through the system and into the senior fold.

The issue, of course, will be how many players that come through the youth ranks will go on to become first-team regulars.

City currently only have two English players as regulars in their starting XI - in the shape of Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling - with many critics claiming the club's big-spending in bringing in the best foreign imports is damaging the national team through the lack of opportunities for home-grown prospects.

While they are yet to see the full fruits of their labour, with a number of home-grown youngsters making the breakthrough to the first team, there is light at the end of the tunnel in the shape of Evans, and City will be hoping there are many more to follow in his footsteps.

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