Manchester City began their 2020/21 Premier League season with an impressive 3-1 win away to Wolves on Monday, but their focus immediately turns to Thursday as they prepare for their defence of the Carabao Cup.
Pep Guardiola was without as many as seven first team players for the trip to Molineux on Monday due to injury or illness. As a result, he will turn to the academy for the clash in order to keep the majority of his first team squad fresh.
Here, we take a look at the starting lineup Guardiola could pick for Thursday's Carabao Cup game...
1. Goalkeeper & Defenders
Zack Steffen (GK) - Following the departure of Claudio Bravo this summer, Steffen has been made City's number two by Guardiola. With the boss ready to shuffle the pack, Steffen will be given the chance to make a positive impression when he is handed his first start for the club.
Kyle Walker (RB) - Guardiola is very keen to protect his players ahead of the tussle with Leicester in the league, but Walker's services could be required on Thursday. Tosin Adarabioyo has played at right-back before, but he is naturally a central defender - making Walker the only real choice as Joao Cancelo remains a doubt. As well as his athleticism, Walker has the stamina and fitness to continue making lung-basting runs throughout games and will be able to handle the quick turnaround between fixtures.
Taylor Harwood-Bellis (CB) - As well as being a dominant defender with an excellent sense of awareness and positioning, 18-year-old Harwood-Bellis is also very composed on the ball and happy to step out of defence to build attacks. Having already made four appearances for the senior side, this will be another opportunity to prove he is capable of making the jump up to the first team on a regular basis.
Nicolas Otamendi (CB) - Guardiola placed his trust in John Stones for the tussle with Wolves, with Otamendi left on the bench. But he will be given his first minutes of the season on Thursday. As the experienced centre back, Guardiola will be looking to the Argentine to take command at the back and lead by example. No pressure, Nicolas.
Nathan Ake (LB) - With limited options in the full-back positions, Guardiola will be forced to select another senior player who started on Monday. But considering Benjamin Mendy's injury record, it could be considered somewhat of a risk to start him again so soon into the season. Ake, however, is more than capable of playing at left-back and could be a suitable option on that side of the defence.
Rodri (CM) - Bringing calmness and quality to the midfield, Rodri is also expected to be one of the players who won't get a rest. His composure and reading of the game will be crucial with Guardiola set to name a fairly inexperienced side - especially in the middle of the park.
Tommy Doyle (CM) - Capable of playing in a more defensive role as well as an attacking midfielder, Doyle plays with a real maturity. The City fan has progressed through the ranks and made his Premier League debut against Newcastle back in July. Guardiola is clearly a big fan of his and Doyle will be hoping to make his mark from the start after recently penning a new long-term deal with City.
Adrian Bernabe (CM) - Another youngster to be named on the City bench on Monday, but will likely be given their chance to shine from the start on Thursday. An attacking midfielder with excellent range of passing and vision, Bernabe will be hoping to make the step up to the first team squad on a regular basis in the not too distant future.
Riyad Mahrez (RW) - Although he has now recovered from Covid-19, Mahrez was only fit enough to make the bench for City on Monday. However, Thursday's Carabao Cup tie appears to be the perfect opportunity to give the winger a chance to pick up some valuable minutes.
Liam Delap (ST) - You may be looking at this player's surname and thinking: "Wait, Delap, I remember that name from somewhere." Well, Liam is indeed the son of Rory Delap - the Stoke City legend. They play slightly different positions, however. Liam is a very natural striker with a real presence and was named on the bench against Wolves, but the 17-year-old could well be given his chance from the start against Bournemouth.
Ferran Torres (LW) - A first start for the Spain international is on the cards after he featured at Wolves off the bench. Torres is more than capable of playing anywhere across the front line, which will make him a very valuable player under Guardiola. He'll be keen to make a positive impression on his first start.