Shea Charles could look to one of Manchester City’s sister clubs in his search for first-team football having played down speculation linking him with Borussia Dortmund.
Charles, 19, has boosted his stock further this past week with two strong performances for Northern Ireland, even though his sixth cap ended in a frustrating 1-0 loss to Finland on Sunday night.
The teenager, who can play in either midfield or defence, is yet to make his senior debut for City – only once making it as far as Pep Guardiola’s bench – and has this week been linked with a move following the likes of Jude Bellingham to Dortmund.
“I don’t really know too much about it myself,” he said of the speculation. “I’m just trying to focus on City at the moment. That’s who I’m playing for, that’s the main thing at the moment.”
Manchester-born Charles began playing for City as part of the under-9s squad.
If first-team minutes are not forthcoming just yet, City could offer another way for Charles to develop his career by sending him on loan to one of their sister clubs within the City Football Group, which extends across Europe and around the world.
“It’s always a possibility,” Charles added. “The City Football Group is very good for players that need first-team football, so yeah, it is a possibility; I’m not sure at the moment.”
Charles made his Northern Ireland debut last summer, and it is a measure of how quickly his stock has risen that Michael O’Neill started him in both matches in this window and handed him the sizeable task of filling in for injured captain Steven Davis at the base of midfield.
That he emerged from both games as one of Northern Ireland’s best players is a significant marker of his progress, and he will return to Manchester full of confidence.
“I feel like I have settled in quite well,” he said. “The lads have helped with that. The coaching staff too. It all helps when they can guide you through. It’s been good so far…
“I am training with the first team at City and the standard is very high. Coming here and playing senior football, it helps me a lot in my development. This is the main thing that is helping me go on to the next stage of my career.”
But the difference between playing for City’s under-21s and playing for Northern Ireland seniors is significant, Charles added, with the higher standard of opposition he faced at Windsor Park on Sunday immediately obvious.
“It’s completely different to what I play,” he said. “You see players like (Teemu) Pukki, the ball comes in to him and he flicks it on, it’s almost impossible to stop. It’s just little things like that. I have got to try to work on that and stop them.
“They don’t care that I am young. They aren’t going to let me off the hook. They might even see it as a good thing that they might be able to put me off. It’s difficult but I enjoy the challenge of playing against the older guys.”
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