Pep Guardiola believes Phil Foden is already good enough to thrive in the Premier League but has given no hint when the youngster’s next big chance will come.
The highly-rated Manchester City youngster, star of England’s triumph at the Under-17 World Cup last autumn, impressed as Guardiola’s side beat Chelsea in the Community Shield earlier this month.
Foden (right) shone as England won the Under-17 World Cup last year (Steven Paston/PA)
That opportunity in part came about because a number of City players had only returned to training late due to their involvement in the World Cup in Russia.
It is also possible that the injury suffered by Kevin De Bruyne in training this week – the Belgium playmaker has been ruled out for three months with a knee problem – could create further openings for the 18-year-old.
But although manager Guardiola has no doubt the teenager is ready, he may have to bide his time.
Guardiola, whose side host Huddersfield on Sunday, said: “We know him very well. He was with us last season, he is part of the group.
“Sometimes last season he went with the second team, first team, second team – now he is part of the team.
Injury to Kevin De Bruyne could create opportunities for Foden (Martin Rickett/PA)
“When I believe he has to play, he plays. All I can say is that I’m so delighted the way he trains every single day. He trains like a professional, the way he improves, and he has the same chances, like the other guys, to win my decision.
“I think for players who come from the academy, the problem is to settle immediately in the first team. It’s not easy, it’s complicated.
“But that is not the case with Phil because I had to put him in Champions League or Community Shield against Chelsea. He can do it. We trust him a lot.”
Despite that, Guardiola feels Foden is still a long way from realising his full potential and hopes people will show patience as he starts to establish himself.
Guardiola said: “He is strong. He looks tiny, skinny – but he is strong. This season he is stronger than last season and, give him time, in one, two or three seasons he will be more and more stronger than right now.
“He will grow. That’s why the focus first is teaching the technique as the most important thing. He will grow and take power and after it will be easy for him.
“But he has the quality to play with us, that is no doubt.”
Given De Bruyne’s injury, David Silva’s return to fitness is timely. The Spaniard missed last week’s victory at Arsenal with a minor knock but he is now back in contention to face the Terriers at the Etihad Stadium.