Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A View From The Reserves: Who Could Step Up This Year?

A few names stand out when you look at the reserve team squad, but are those players capable of making a step up and helping the first team this season?  We suffered a bit of an injury crisis towards the end of Winter last year, but this season we will have more players than ever to help the cause, and clearly others might be ready to make the step up.

Some of them you have to say seem further away than ever, Michael Johnson at one time was a key part of our first team squad but even when he was recovering from injury at the back end of last season he just didn't look the player that he once was.  As someone that attended the vast majority of games at Ewen Fields, I could see flashes of the old Johnson but the whole package seemed to be non-existent.  He was still neat and tidy on the ball, but there was no lung bursting runs through the centre of the pitch, and quite simply he didn't look overly mobile.  I expect his future will lie else where and with no sign of him so far this pre-season you would imagine his exit is pretty imminent.  It is a massive shame really because for a long time it looked as if Johnson would be a future star, not just for City but also England.  His career in football may not be over, but I don't see much of a future in the Premier League sadly.

One player that I think can definitely help is 19 year old defender Reece Wabara.  The Midlands born centreback made a cameo at the end of the Bolton game and I think it could be the first of many.  He has impressed me repeatedly playing for the reserve team and I think he may have what it takes to provide cover and make a few appearances this season.  He is comfortable on the ball, seems to have pretty good technique as well as pace to get himself out of trouble.  A further string to his bow is his ability to play either full back position.  From following Reece on twitter it is pretty apparent that he is hard working and wants to break through and I think he could get a chance this season.  I suppose the only problem is that we are hardly short of bodies in the defensive unit and youngster Dedryck Boyata is ahead of him in the pecking order, but if we pick up a few knocks I can see him getting a chance.

City snapped up Barcelona academy graduate Gai Assulin after a very protracted deal was finally completed and after a string of pretty impressive performances for the reserves he got injured...again...seriously.  I suppose there were early signs, one of the reasons his signing took so long was that he kept picking up knocks making him unable to complete a medical.  What will become of him I have no idea, his playing style is similar to that of David Silva and he floats around the park gracefully, but if he can't put a string of games together he may never come close to fulfilling his potential.  He is currently back in training at Carrington preparing for another season with the reserve squad, if he comes through it unscathed, then who knows, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

The future of John Guidetti is a bit of a mystery at this point.  It would appear that he is now ready to sign a new deal with City and I think that can only be good news.  Earlier in the Summer it looked as if he was going to sign with Dutch side FC Twente, that deal seemed to be a certainty however official confirmation never came and now he is back training with City in the USA.  Reports suggest that City offered a new deal at the last minute and that has convinced the Swede to stay.  Guidetti looks a good prospect to me when I have seen him playing for the reserves and I am sure he could have his uses in the first team squad.  Considering the number of times that Brazilian misfit Jo warmed the bench this year surely the young Swede would be a far better option.  In terms of physical attributes I think he has everything needed for success, he is reasonable pacey, he is strong, and on top of that he has a good finish on him.  He has already played Championship football on loan with Burnley but I think a place on the City bench this season is not out of the question.

There are others in and around the reserve team who have made first team appearances Abdi Ibrahim has a couple of first team appearances to his name and he could feature next season, as could young defender Ryan McGivern but I can't help but feel loan moves are more likely for these 2.  With the 'NextGen Series' kicking off in a month or so, the reserve team could receive a bit of a shake up, but I think there's a couple that aren't a million miles away from the first team.

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