City's young stars aim to emulate class of 2007
The international break gave Leicester's talented Academy side a rare chance to grab the spotlight on Saturday and they duly obliged by sinking Norwich 5-0 at Belvoir Drive. Having started the season impressively, comparisons can clearly be drawn with the 2006/7 Academy Premier League-winning side which included current first-teamers Andy King and Max Gradel and the now departed Joe Mattock. Our youth players are receiving widespread international recognition with Billy Kee, currently on loan at Accrington Stanley, being called into the senior Northern Ireland squad tonight following an injury to Rangers forward Kyle Lafferty. Kee's international progression is just the latest in a long line of call-ups for City's young players, with defenders Liam Moore and Tom Parkes both winning England youth honours recently. Other impressive current Academy members include the lightning-fast left-footed attacker Jeffrey Schlupp, powerful striker Adi Yusseff, towering Irish centre-back Cian Bolger and lively midfielder Jorrin John.
From Saturday's demolition of the Canaries, unbeaten this season until the weekend, it is clear that a good number of these players will make the step up to professional action. Parkes and Bolger in particular look physically ready, even in a demanding position such as centre-back and both impressed in pre-season outings for City's reserve side. Gaining a place in the first-team squad is just the first rung in the ladder though, from which King and Gradel are currently in danger of losing their footing. Both have found themselves out of favour following impressive first showings in League One last season.
The 2006/07 Academy-winning side have enjoyed mixed fortunes in their individual quests to break through into the senior ranks of a League side:
Carl Pentney - currently third choice at City following a substitute appearance against Swindon last season.
Lee Cox - moved to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the summer. Has scored twice in six appearances from central midfield so far this season.
Joe Mattock - recently moved to West Bromwich Albion for a seven-figure fee.
Scott Garner - again played against City in pre-season for his current club Mansfield Town where he has established himself as a regular first-teamer.
Joe Magunda - at King's Lynn in the Unibond Premier Division. Played in the 3-1 defeat against a City reserve side in pre-season along with another former Fox, Jay Smedley. Recently joined by...
Ryan Beswick - who is on a month's loan in Norfolk from Kettering Town.
Andy King - almost everpresent in City's League One title campaign, recently called up to the full Welsh squad again but has withdrawn through injury.
Tom Tejan-Sie - currently on a month's loan at Braintree Town from his club Dagenham and Redbridge.
Max Gradel - weighed in with a vital last-gasp equaliser last season at Milton Keynes Dons but is currently out of favour with City boss Nigel Pearson.
Billy McKay - joined Northampton Town permanently in the summer for whom he scored his first senior goal recently at Accrington Stanley. Also called up last month to the Northern Ireland Under-21 squad.
Eric Odhiambo - currently at Inverness Caledonian Thistle along with Lee Cox and former City winger Jonathan Hayes.