Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has hinted to Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough that he was “pleased with what he saw” of promising 18-year-old midfielder Shea Charles.
The highly rated Charles, who can also act as a defender, has been called up to the NI squad for the four forthcoming Nations League games.
“Shea is someone who developed at Man City,” Baraclough said of Charles.
“He will certainly want to play for the first team.”
“We are in contact with Man City and the coaches there who look after him day by day and they are delighted with his development this year,” he added.
“He played a lot of U23 football, he also trained with the first team and I know Pep was happy with what he saw.
“Otherwise he wouldn’t invite him back into this training group. He’s probably a similar type of player to Paddy McNair. If he’s half as good as Paddy for his country then I’m happy.”
Charles previously played for Northern Ireland U17, U19 and U21 but would also be eligible to play for England.
He has been called up in a young 28-man squad for the forthcoming Liga C quadruple header, which begins with a Group 2 opener against Greece at Windsor Park on Thursday before taking on Cyprus three days later.
Baraclough’s side face another away game against Kosovo on Thursday 9 June before playing their fourth home game against Cyprus three days later.
“Shea is someone we’ve nurtured from a young age. He’s progressed through the age groups and is probably faster than expected in the senior team,” Baraclough explained.
“We don’t feel the need to cap him often enough that he can’t play for anyone anymore. The way he was looked after, the opportunities he was given is something that resonates with him and his family.
“We have high hopes that Shea will develop into a very, very good player. We have to be careful not to give him something too soon but we think he’s up to the challenge at the moment.”
The teenager was with the Premier League champions from a young age and Baraclough admits he will have first-team ambitions.
“He’s been there for a number of years now. He’ll want to play for the first team but you just have to look at what’s happened to other young players who’ve come through at Man City – maybe they’ll get a game or two. ” maybe in cup games to see where they stand.
“They are a club that will always bring the biggest and best players they can get in world football. He needs to play against that caliber of players and try to prove his worth against them.”
“Shea has a really solid perspective, a realistic assessment of where he is at the moment and he might need to go somewhere else to get some experience, whether that’s on loan to begin with and we’re going to look into that and help him with that, like it happens.”