Nigeria’s Kelechi Iheanacho ready to ‘prove myself any time’ for Man City

Manchester City's Nigeria starlet Kelechi Iheanacho says 'I know I have the quality' to make an impact at Manchester City, but adds 'I have to work hard' to reach that goal.

Manchester City and Nigeria striker Kelechi Iheanacho shown after scoring in the Premier League against Crystal Palace last month. Mike Hewitt / Getty Images / September 12, 2015
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Kelechi Iheanacho is determined to seize every chance he gets to impress for Manchester City.

The 19-year-old Nigeria striker made a big impression on his first start for the club with a goal and two assists in a 5-1 League Cup thrashing of Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

The highly-rated prospect, who also scored a late winner against the same opponents as a substitute last month, was given his opportunity in the continued absence of leading striker Sergio Aguero through injury.

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And after his eye-catching display against Palace, Iheanacho, who joined City last season but had to be held back while work permit issues were resolved, is now hungry for more.

He said: “I know I have the quality to prove myself any time I am given the chance. So any time I am on the pitch I have to work hard and play to the instruction of the coach and try to score a goal. That is what I am working on.”

Iheanacho, promoted to the first-team squad in the summer, realises that in Aguero and Wilfried Bony he has some experienced – and expensive – players ahead of him in the pecking order but he is not fazed.

He said: “It is quite difficult because they are professional players, they have played in a lot of competitions and a lot of games and I am just coming up. I need to work hard every day and hopefully I will break in.”

City, who fielded a strong side despite resting Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany and Raheem Sterling, did not even hit top gear as they eased into the quarter-finals at Palace’s expense.

Bony opened the scoring after 22 minutes and Iheanacho set up Kevin De Bruyne for the second just before the interval.

De Bruyne returned the favour for Iheanacho early in the second half and Yaya Toure struck the fourth from the penalty spot. Damien Delaney claimed a late Palace consolation but 17-year-old Manu Garcia raced on to an Iheanacho pass to make it 5-1 in injury time.

The only downside for City was another knee injury for right-back Pablo Zabaleta – an apparent recurrence of the medial ligament problem that has already sidelined him for a month this season. The Argentinian was due to be fully assessed by the club on Thursday.

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