Man City enter new European league for young players - Manchester City FC

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mark allen
Season 2011/12

City kids take on Euro challenge

  • 22 June 2011 08:00
  • Posted by Peter Ferguson

Mark Allen believes the club has taken a major step forward in helping to launch the ground-breaking Nextgen Series for Europe's elite young players.

City will contest a group that also features Barcelona, Celtic and Marseille, with the top two teams progressing to an eight-team knockout to be staged in January.

Head of Academy Allen is delighted that City are one of 16 leading clubs, including Inter Milan and Sporting Lisbon, who will test their youngsters at such a rarefied level this season.

He said: "We'll be competing against the best in Europe, a la the Champions League format, and we see it as an important chapter in the development of Manchester City.

It brings real competition to the table. It will be fantastic for the lads and the football club, and fantastic for our fans

...Mark Allen

"Barcelona at Hyde will not take much getting up for! That will go down well with everybody. Who knows, we might be seeing the new Lionel Messi on a Thursday night at Hyde.

"It's the next stepping stone, so as they come through the Academy system there is the platform for them to be playing football at a level that is commensurate with their development.

"It will prepare them for those balmy nights we'll hopefully have in the Champions League as the club moves forward. We want to prepare them for what they will encounter as fully-fledged professionals.

"The average age for a Premier League debut is becoming older, 21 or 22 when before it might have been 17 or 18. You have to bridge that gap and prepare them for a better standard of football.

They'll be mixing with the best in Europe at that age. It gives us chance to compare where we are against the other talent out there, and it gives them the stage to prepare for their futures

...Mark Allen

City have opted out of the Barclays Premier Reserve League, and Allen added: "We found it just a little bit too rigid in terms of fixtures. This will allow us the scope for a flexible games programme.

"We can also take advantage of playing games further afield as we engage more with some of the clubs we have close relations with in Europe and across the UK."

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