Pep Guardiola will give Manchester City’s youth players a chance to prove themselves Wednesday night against Wycombe in City’s first Carabao Cup match of the season.
City begin their defence of their fourth consecutive Carabao Cup at 19:45 BST. However, it will not be on live television in the UK. Fans can follow along on City’s social media channels, but highlights and a full match replay will be available on City’s website just after midnight. US-based fans will be able to watch if they have an ESPN+ subscription.
City fans know Guardiola’s hesitancy with playing multiple youth players. However, with several first-team players out due to varying injuries and with games against Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool on the horizon, it’s understandable for the change of heart.
Guardiola revealed during the embargoed Southampton post-match press conference that Rodri, Aymeric Laporte, John Stones, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ilkay Gundogan are all out recovering from knocks. While Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo won’t be availed due to the sheer number of minutes they’ve played to start the campaign.
“It’s a good opportunity for the academy - that’s why they are there,” Guardiola added in the embargo.
Cole Palmer, Romeo Lavia, Luke Mbete and Josh Wilson-Esbrand are expected to start, with all four being named as substitutes during senior games this season. With Cole Palmer appearing as a substitute in City’s 5-0 thrashing of Norwich City back in August.
It’s also believed that Liam Delap, James McAtee and Sam Edozie will feature as well. All three featured for City’s EDS squad in a 4-2 win over Crystal Palace. However, Delap only played 46 minutes in his first appearance of the season due to recovering from an injury.
Delap, Edozie, Lavia, Mbete, McAtee and Palmer were all consistent starters for City’s dominant EDS squad who won the Premier League 2 last season by 14 points while scoring 79 goals, for context second-placed Chelsea only scored 50.
CIty fans may remember Edozie from his impressive preseason campaign, scoring against Preston, Barnsley and Blackpool. The 18-year-old has netted three goals in five appearances for the EDS already this season.
McAtee played sparingly in the preseason, starting against Barnsley, but has made a name for himself the past two Premier League 2 seasons. After scoring nine goals and an impressive 14 assists in all competitions last season, the 18-year-old midfielder already has 11 goals and three assists in only seven appearances this season for the EDS.
Delap has had a delayed start to his 2021 campaign due to injuries and a COVID breakout in the academy this summer. The 18-year-old had 36 goal contributions in 27 appearances for both the EDS and senior sides last year.
Predicted City XI:
Steffen, Walker, Mbete, Ake, Wilson-Esbrand, Lavia, De Bruyne, Palmer, Mahrez, Ferran, Foden
Substitutes: Carson, Fernandinho, Delap, Edozie, McAtee, Dias, Grealish
Wycombe are in good form in the league, currently sitting fifth in League One only two points off first place Wigan. However, their league form has not carried over to domestic ties, having lost to Villa’s U21’s in the EFL Trophy and advancing on penalties against League Two sides Exeter and Stevenage.
Referee: Robert Jones
Assistants: Adrian Holmes and Darren Cann
Fourth official: Martin Atkinson
City 2-0 win (Foden, Palmer)
Despite Wycombe’s shaky form in domestic cups this season, City will likely feature a squad that lacks chemistry. Fortunately playing at the Etihad should help, as City have struggled to play on inadequate pitches when featuring against teams from lower divisions.
Written by: @IVIeehan
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