From inside the changing room: Captain introduces Stoke City cup final squad for Man City


Who are the Stoke City under-18s who will take on Manchester City in the PL Cup final tonight?

Captain Adam Porter has given us the lowdown on who’s who in the changing room.

NATHAN BROOME

Broomy, from Warrington. Came from Man City at 16s, played for England at 17s and 18s. Very good technically with his feet but also a good shot stopper. Within our group we don’t think we’ve come up against a keeper better than him at our level. Brings a bit of banter to dressing room and good at rallying the rest of the lads, making sure standards are high.

LEWIS MACARI

Macca is one of the quieter members of the group but one of the most trusted on the pitch, one of our most reliable players. You might not always notice him but everything is done pretty much perfectly. So consistent.

REECE JONES

Started this season at a right winger but has turned himself into a right back. With his natural pace and physicality, he’s been a really big member of our team this season. He’s a Stoke fan and in fact there’s a photo of our support at Wembley for the cup final in the tunnel at the bet365 Stadium – and he’s on it!

EDDIE JONES

Came from Bury last summer when they folded. To the rest of the group he’s probably seen as the most professional. Takes everything really seriously, whether it’s training or recovery. Really reliable.

KIERAN COATES

A Stoke fan from Smallthorne. His natural physicality, he can be really aggressive on the pitch which is what you want from a defender.

Kieran Coates has been impressing at right-back through the ranks at Stoke City.

MO AKANDJI

Man mountain as he’s known. A beast. All the attributes of a top centre-half. Quiet and calm off the pitch but on it, he’s at his best when he’s at his most aggressive.

PAT JARRETT

He’s from Nantwich and technically one of the best at under-18s level. The team can be in trouble and he can take you on a dribble up the pitch. Stepped up to 23s quite well this season, played quite a few games. He’s got a bit about him too in the changing room.

DAN MALONE

Like when Glenn Whelan was here you appreciate when he’s playihg. He’ll cover you, and has a good football intelligence. He can control games.

Me, Bugsy and Pat have played together since we were about 10 and have formed a good relationship in central midfield. That’s shown this season more than any other.

ADAM PORTER

I’ve definitely developed the box-to-box part of game since I’ve been full-time and added a few more goals this season.

Being captain of u18s has brought a new responsibility which I’m really proud to have. I think I’ve led the group quite well but in the changing room there’s a number of leaders that have helped me. The standards in the dressing room are really high and that’s got to come from the whole team, not just one of us.

ANDRE GODFRINNE

A physical beast. No defender would like to play against him. His English is developing and he’s always lively in dressing room, always dancing, always on the speaker. Brought a lot of goals to the team and formed a good relationship with Mo. The stats over recent months have shown that.

MO SANKOH

Massive character. Although he’s younger, he’s one of the leaders on the pitch. Not lacking in self-confidence but always willing to put a shift in. His record speaks for itself.

Speaking for myself as a midfielder, you get judged off goals and assists and having those two lads up front making runs all day is brilliant. If we’re doing the right things in our box we know we’ve got one or two goals guaranteed because they’re so clinical.

Their work allows us to get runs up to them, too.

Mo Sankoh with his hat-trick ball up his jumper as Stoke City under-18s beat Norwich 8-0 in the Premier League Cup.

Ethon Varian scored against Everton in the FA Youth Cup last season.

ETHON VARIAN

Not necessarily the quickest but one of the best physically. Has gone out to Nantwich on loan and can handle men’s football. Goals record speaks for itself. He averaged one every 81 minutes for the under-18s last season. Whether starting or on the bench our forwards are really strong. A good lad off the pitch, he demands good standards.

TOM SPARROW

A real grafter in training. Even if not we’re having best time on the ball, he will fly about. Running stats show he’s always up there – but he mixes that with being technically very good. That showed in his hat-trick against Sunderland recently.

CONNER TAYLOR

Conner came in from non-league at start of season but no one ever questioned if he could step up. A different class on and off the pitch. His frame for centre-half is huge and he uses it to his advantage. If yo’ve got it, use it. Rarely loses headers but very good with his feet too.

A good character with Eddie to have added to the dressing room. They’ve adjusted really well to a group that’s been together for a long time.

Signing up for Stoke last summer. From left to right: Paul Cooper, Henry Nash, Ruben Gardner-McIntosh, Maksy Boruc, Tom Sparrow, Julius Ndene, Tom Nixon, Jai Verma, Jamie Melbourne, Kevin Fernandes.

PAUL COOPER

Coops might not have the biggest frame but his physicality and leap is ridiculous. The amount of spring he has means he can come and take crosses with no problem. Good with his feet and a great shot stopper. And he works hard all the time. Another one who has been with England at youth level.

JAI VERMA

He’s a little tricky winger and on his day he’s very difficult to stop. He’s so agile and his change of direction is so quick. Very useful and even though he hasn’t got a lot of minutes, he’s created chances whenever he’s been on the pitch.

SOIYIR SANALI

French boy can play in midfield or out wide. Pacy and a great dribbler. Has really made an impact this season whether it’s starting or from the bench.

KEV FERNANDES

Another with great feet, technically very good. Hasn’t had a lot playing time but always grafting in training. We try to make training tougher than games and I think that’s come across when it’s counted, like the Norwich game.

JAMIE MELBOURNE

A left-back from Birmingham. He’s got a lot of good attributes to him and he’s also got a good bit of banter in the dressing room.

HENRY NASH

Nashy is a great communicator on the pitch. Been on loan at Market Drayton recently and an old school defender who doesn’t mind putting his body on the line but can play as well.

TOM NIXON

Niko been on loan at Market Drayton too. Plays full-back and technically he’s very good. He has a good eye for a pass – and he’s no nonsense.

IBRAHIM DOUCOURE

Tough season with injuries but a great physicality for his age in central midfield and another who’s been a great sparring partner in training.





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