Former Elite Development Squad manager Patrick Vieira has told The Times that his former club must improve the competitiveness of their youth teams if they want to increase the number of players making the step from the U21s to the senior squad.

This season has seen Nigerian starlet Kelechi Iheanacho become a first-team regular and a list of others awarded a place in Manuel Pellegrini’s match-day squad. However, ex-France international Vieira believes that Greg Dyke’s proposed ‘B League’ must be created in order to begin to introduce youth players to the pressure of playing in front of bigger crowds.

Last year we played, say, against Spurs at their training ground in front of 20 people. How is that for the first team? It’s not life or death for results.

The gap between under-21 and Championship now is massive. It is not realistic in the under-21s.

The 39-year-old, who has recently taken over at sibling club New York City, says that only ‘one or two’ academy players will achieve their potential in the next five years because of the way that club is structured.

Everything at City is working the right way but to judge success we have to be realistic. It might be one, two players over the next five years.

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