The big chance


The big chance


The first-team players may be the focus of everyone's attention in New York, but our USA editor Kevin Mooney describes how the young guns are working to make their mark...

One of the side stories of pre-season is young players getting their chance to play with the first team and watching them as they try to make their mark. Training and traveling with the first-team squad is a huge deal and their excitement at the opportunity to prove themselves is evident.

But they are also young men who are clearly also enjoying themselves.

At training on Friday, the young guns were right in thick of it with the senior players and did not look out their element. From a distance, with no names or numbers on the back of the shirts you could be forgiven for mistaking one of the teenagers for one of his more accomplished teammates.

It isn’t just on the pitch where their youthful exuberance stands out. During a Twitter Takeover on Friday, a crew of seven - Hector Bellerin, Jon Toral, Isaac Hayden, Chuba Akpom, Kris Olssen, Ignasi Miquel and Emi Martinez - squeezed onto a large sofa and just let their personalities shine. To them, interacting with the fans on Twitter was a perk of the job and it allowed them to relax and just be themselves.

You really get the sense that they get on together - and that is something that goes a long way on the pitch. These are some seriously talented athletes - all of them highly touted and all of them with bright futures. But they are humble and engaging and are quick to smile and laugh - and of course poke fun at one another.

But they also have a serious streak about them and perhaps that is what sets them apart from others in their age range. Whenever the light conversation turns to football, their passion is evident, but so is the thoughtfulness. They have a constant focus -  what can they can learn and how they can improve.

The reality is that most young players in any sport won’t make the grade at the top level. But each of these young men is eager to prove they can do it and confident that they will.

Each them will tell you that they are exactly where they want to be right now and each of them are striving to show that they belong. And on Saturday evening, they will get their chance.

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