Rico Lewis showing England credentials with Man City star repaying Pep Guardiola faith

Manchester City teenager Rico Lewis has played a key role in Pep Guardiola’s side’s Premier League title triumph, and his energy, ability and attitude is helping to reinvent a position.

Lewis had caught the eye of the Catalan coach in pre-season and was swiftly ensconced into the first team setup. He was handed a debut against Bournemouth, scored in the Champions League win over Sevilla and emerged as a trusted pair of hands during City’s difficult spell at the turn of the year.

Guardiola spoke of Lewis leading by example in the inverted full back role, moving into midfield when required and helping show Kyle Walker and John Stones the way. High praise indeed.

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Lewis has been touted for a potential England call up having only made his Under-21 bow in March. His manager at England Under-18 level, Ryan Garry, sees a bright future ahead. Indeed the former Arsenal man, currently in charge of the Young Lions Under-17 side who are chasing European Championship glory, spoke with Lewis about the prospect of playing a midfield role.

“I was really impressed with Rico last year when he came into our camps,” said Garry, speaking to the Manchester Evening News. “He was very consistent. He was playing right back and I had conversations with him about his playing position and he showed with his technical level and his ability to read the game that he could play in midfield, and he backed himself to play in midfield. But he said ‘I don’t get played there’

“I said that potentially I would be happy to see him in there and then to see him make his City debut, make a Champions League debut with a goal, then to play as a right back and an inverted full back with his club and doing it very well, I think that shows his talent. I would like to think the Under-18s games he had last year contributed a little bit to make him feel like he was more than capable of playing at a higher level.

“It is a massive jump from England U18s to Man City’s first team but those experiences playing against the likes of Portugal, Holland, Denmark, Sweden – you play against different opposition and styles of play. Credit to him because he has taken his chance really well, the games I have seen he has played like he has always played there. He is a great kid with a really good work ethic and I hope this season is the start of many more games to come.”

Off the pitch Lewis is quiet and focussed. His rise into the City first team has seen him make 23 appearances across all competitions this season. He could end it with medals in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League as the Blues chase the treble in the coming weeks.

The Bury-born youngster is not 19 until November and could be included in the England Under-21 squad for the European Championships this summer. Lewis’ club commitments mean he is not part of a preparation party heading to St George’s Park from June 6 but the final squad is not due to be named until later that month. If his recent, trajectory is anything to go by, a senior call surely isn’t far away. And Garry believes if and when it comes, the prospect will take it in his stride.

“Rico has been with the Under-21s and because of our pathway experiences, that will have been different but not too different with the demands we put on players and what is expected of them,” added Garry. “When he wears that Three Lions badge he knows what is expected on and off the pitch so maybe it is easier to adapt to a different environment with the older players.

“Ultimately our goal is for players like Rico to have experience at different age groups to benefit the club and also our pathway. Long term everyone is tasked with developing young men that are more than able to have a career in a game and ultimately the dream is to represent the senior team. And hopefully we can help him them along, even if it is just five per cent.”

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