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Barca attack picking up steam

Barcelona 6 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
May 22, 2008

Sven looks ahead as exit nears

Sven-Goran Eriksson focused on Manchester City's young players at the conclusion of the post-season tour of Asia but once again stonewalled questions relating to his own future.

Five of City's FA Youth Cup-winning side appeared in the 3-1 loss to a South China Invitational XI in what could prove to be Eriksson's final match in charge.

The Swede has been the subject of intense speculation since it was revealed club owner Thaksin Shinawatra is conducting a review, the result of which will be known after the squad return to Manchester tomorrow.

The 60-year-old believes the future is bright at Eastlands but declined to reveal if he would be in charge.

'City has always had good young players and the youth team won the FA Youth Cup, beating Chelsea, and the future is good,' said Eriksson.

Kiran Trippier, Andrew Tutte, David Ball, Ryan McGivern and Ben Mee have all had their first tastes of first-team action on tour, and former England boss Eriksson believes they could step up to the Barclays Premier League next term.

'In the squad, I believe that someone has the chance, but I suppose it depends very much on pre-season,' he added. 'One or two, maybe all of them, will have the chance in the future.'

Dietmar Hamann put City ahead but the hosts levelled before half-time through Giovane Da Silva.

The Invitational XI - a select band of Hong Kong League players - went ahead three minutes after the interval when Festus Baise struck before Liang Zicheng added a third after 71 minutes.

City failed to bounce back as they suffered their second loss in Asia, following last Saturday's 3-1 defeat by Thailand Premier All-Stars in Bangkok.

However, Eriksson, who was without a host of first-team regulars through international call-ups and injuries, believes it was an important trip.

'I think it was very useful for the young players we have - it's good for them,' he said. 'I'm disappointed that we lost, but the most important thing is that we tried to play good football.'

Eriksson reflected on a difficult first season as a Premier League manager, saying he was looking forward to a break - but he once again refused to comment on how long he expected his break to be.

'It has been a very, very long season for all of us, especially for a lot of young players and a lot of new players in the Premier League,' he added. 'I think everybody looks forward to a break now.'

China international Sun Jihai, who could have played his last match following six and a half years with City, was also unable to comment on Eriksson's situation.

'I couldn't answer that,' said Sun, whose contract expires next month. 'When I'm the chairman I'll be able to answer that.'

On his own situation, Sun added: 'I still want to play for City, but that's football.'

The defender has received offers from Premier League and Coca-Cola Championship clubs, as well as a club in China, but he wants to continue to play in England.

'I can still play at Premier League level,' he added.

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