Leicester City Development Squad

Development Continues For Leicester City's Under-23s

Halfway through the campaign, LCFC.com takes a look back at an exciting opening to 2020/21 for Leicester City's Development Squad.
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Following a second-place league finish, decided on a points-per-game basis after the season came to an early conclusion, and a run to the quarter-finals of the EFL Trophy, City had enjoyed a successful 2019/20.

And it was in the cup competition that Leicester's 2020/21 campaign got up and running, facing Sky Bet League 1 side Hull City at KCOM Stadium in early September.

Not overawed by their senior opponents, the visitors opened the scoring through Callum Wright and snatched a win when George Hirst converted an injury-time penalty, sending City to the top of Group H.

The new Premier League 2 Division 1 season also began in impressive fashion as goals from Ali Reghba and a stunning long-range effort from Mitch Clark helped record a 2-0 victory over Manchester United Under-23s at Leigh Sports Village.

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Mitch Clark
Mitch Clark

Mitch Clark's long range effort helped City to victory at Manchester United in the opening game of the league season.

Following that goal and clean sheet, Clark was shortlisted for the Premier League 2 Player of the Month in September, ahead of joining League 2 Port Vale on loan.

However, the Foxes soon endured a tough spell, tasting defeat at the hands of Everton (3-0), Blackburn Rovers (4-0), Derby County (2-1) and Manchester City (4-0).

Harrogate Town also ran out 3-1 winners in the EFL Trophy clash at Keepmoat Stadium, despite Thanawat Suengchitthawon's late goal, but City remained in the hunt to qualify for the knockout stages.

An upturn in league results followed as City recorded their biggest victory of the season away to the previously unbeaten Brighton & Hove Albion Under-23s in late October.

Jake Wakeling netted a first half brace ahead of Wright - named captain after Sam Hughes' loan move to Burton Albion - and Tyrese Shade putting further gloss on the scoreline on the south coast.

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George Hirst
George Hirst

George Hirst ensured a winning start for the Foxes in the EFL Trophy.

November started with a 3-1 victory at Grimsby Town in the final EFL Trophy group stage fixture, booking Leicester's place in the second round. Behind at the break, City showed character to come back and score three times in a whirlwind 16-minute spell.

Wright's equaliser and an inch-perfect free-kick from Sidnei Tavares had the visitors in front, before Admiral Muskwe added gloss to the scoreline on his return to the starting XI following a long-term injury.

Back in league action, City welcomed West Ham United Under-23s to King Power Stadium, playing their first home game of the season. Despite an early red card for Vontae Daley-Campbell, the Foxes came away with another three points.

Demarai Gray's double, both set up by Khanya Leshabela, including an 87th minute winner, was enough to continue an impressive run of form.

Leshabela was one of four youngsters called up to the first team squad for the UEFA Europa League group stage trip to Zorya Luhansk, alongside Jakub Stolarczyk, Shane Flynn and 16-year-old Ben Nelson.

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Admiral Muskwe
Admiral Muskwe

Admiral Muskwe was on target against Grimsby, one of five goals in as many games for the forward.

November ended in some style as Leicester put five past Tottenham Hotspur Under-23s at Hotspur Way, making it four successive wins in all competitions. Layton Ndukwu, Muskwe, Wakeling and Wright (2) were all on the scoresheet in north London for another big away win.

There was late heartbreak on the next trip to the capital, however, when Chelsea Under-23s scored an 88th-minute winner, condemning City to a first defeat in five games, despite Muskwe's second-half leveller.

The Foxes fared better in the EFL Trophy, progressing into the last-16 after a dramatic tie with Salford City at Peninsula Stadium. Twice trailing by two goals, Leicester showed their powers of recovery thanks to another two strikes from Admiral Muskwe, taking his tally to five goals in as many games.

A superb lob from Shane Flynn equalised late on, making it 3-3 on the night and taking the game to penalties, where City triumphed 6-5, missing just one of their seven spot kicks. Goalkeeper Stolarczyk was the hero, saving twice in the shootout including the sudden death penalty from Salford's Sam Fielding, to advance in the competition.

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Leicester City's Development Squad
Leicester City's Development Squad

The players celebrate their penalty shootout victory over Salford City.

The Development Squad will take on Tranmere Rovers in the third round of the Papa John’s Trophy on Wednesday 13 January, 2021 (7pm GMT kick-off), aiming to make the last eight for the second successive season.

Back-to-back away league defeats to Southampton B and Arsenal Under-23s finished off the 2020 calendar, leaving the Foxes in 11th place in Premier League 2, with a tally of 12 points from the opening 11 fixtures.

Speaking ahead of the season resuming in January, Senior Professional Development Phase Coach, Steve Beaglehole commented: "We've got a lot to look forward to in the New Year, the new training ground to go into and we can start playing these games at home.

"We'll have 12 out of 13 at home, so that'll be good. It makes a big difference being at home, even at this level. We've got the EFL Trophy against Tranmere and we're the only Development team left in the competition, so it would be good to try and get through another round of that as well."

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