Liam Delap remains part of Pep Guardiola’s first team plans after making a goal-scoring senior debut in Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Bournemouth in the EFL Cup.
Delap, who is the son of former Stoke City favorite Rory, was an unused replacement for City’s opening 3-1 Premier League win over Wolves.
With Sergio Aguero sidelined due to a knee injury and Gabriel Jesus resting as the only remaining specialty player in Guardiola’s squad, the 17-year-old was handed a start at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.
He duly opened the scoring in the 18th minute and showed the pace and power to secure Phil Foden’s through ball and cut a brilliant left foot finish in the top right corner.
The foot netted the winner 15 minutes from time after Sam Surridge found a quick response to Delap’s strike.
Speaking at a post-match news conference, Guardiola pointed to the example of Foden, who also debuted as a 17-year-old but had to be patient in his quest to become a first-team regular.
“We see in training how good a finisher he is,” said City manager about Delap. Now he must be calm and continue working.
“We are very happy with his performance – he played really well.
“The situation we have right now is that we only have 13 players available in the first team. We need players from the academy, not just in training sessions.
“With the problems we have ahead of us, Liam will stay with us. We use him, but we can not forget how we talked about Phil in previous seasons.”
Delap shone most clearly in a youthful City lineup that featured Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis in central defense, Tommy Doyle in midfield and playmaker Adrian Bernabe in left back.
The latter endured a miserable excursion and left the track on a stretcher before the break.
Afterwards, attention returned to Delap, and Guardiola was eager to praise City’s academy production line, which is struggling under the attentive eye of former English winger Jason Wilcox.
“He’s just 17, he has a lot of things to improve. They need their own time, we can not predict the process for every young player,” he added.
“Congratulations to the academy for all the guys involved who are scouting to recruit these players and all the leaders in the academy.
“In the end, I have the finished product, the final steps, but before that there are a lot of players working for this. Jason Wilcox is now the head of the academy helping us have those players.”
After battling for the fourth EFL Cup success in a row, City hosted Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday.