Latest Football News From Manchester: Liam Delap gives Man City food for thought in transfer market with excellent FA Youth Cup display

There were only three minutes on the clock when Manchester City's under-18s got their first chance to take the lead and it was Delap who grabbed it, setting City on their way to a strong start to their defence of the FA Youth Cup.

With City making a new striker their top priority this coming summer, the former Derby County man is making a great case for the club to save their money and promote him to the first team permanently instead.

City only lifted the prestigious trophy – following a thrilling 3-2 victory over Chelsea – in November as the final was rearranged due Covid-19, and the pandemic has also forced them to wait to get under way in this year's tournament.

The match with Birmingham was initially scheduled for January 14 but was delayed as the competition was temporarily suspended, and the young Blues wasted no time in taking the lead on Friday night.

Birmingham actually got the game underway but City soon wrestled control and Alex Robertson split the defence open with a through ball for Delap. As soon as he got the ball there was no doubt where it was going and he calmly slotted it into the bottom corner.

Delap hadn't played for the Under-18s this season before tonight and he clearly looked a level above his opponents. Towering above those tasked to mark him, he looked broader, faster and stronger as he shrugged off tackles with ease and powered past defenders like they weren't even there. He had the appearance of a Year 11 joker who decided to take the ball off the Year 7s and dared them to get it back.

One moment saw him drive forward, after Juan Larios won the ball and set him off, and it took three defenders hounding him down to avert the danger.

Birmingham captain and centre-midfielder Alfie Chang was soon given the task to man-mark him as he dropped back into defence to try and stifle City's dominance.

It worked for a time as they slowly grew back into the game and managed to fashion a couple of chances, Amari Miller forcing a smart save out of Mikki van Sas after powering his way into the box and shooting from a tight angle.

But it wasn't long before City started taking back control, as their ample more experience and quality shone through.

Samuel Edozie twice went close after exciting dribbles down the left but it was Oscar Bobb on the opposite flank who played a major role in the second goal. His excellent touch from Callum Doyle's cross-field pass saw him breeze past the left-back.

He was eventually tackled but James McAtee did well to keep the ball alive and work it to Delap, who, with the swagger of a player who knew he was too good for his opponents, nonchalantly back-heeled it into the bottom corner.

Just two minutes later and the game was already put beyond doubt as Bobb blasted into the net at the near post.

With 38 minutes gone City had one foot in the fourth round but they continued to dominate and looked to extend their lead. Despite a typical, torrential Manchester downpour making a cold night yet colder at half-time, they got a fourth just after the break.

McAtee – another player who normally plays at a higher level – again grabbed the assist with a wonderful chipped ball over the defence, which Robertson ran onto to toe-poke the ball beyond the goalkeeper.

The rain then came down with a vengeance and the wind picked up, making play difficult for both sides. With the job done and the conditions worsening, Delap was taken off just before the hour.

His two goals take his tally for the season up to 22 in just 19 games across all competitions as he continues to showcase his talents. He only turned 18 last month and still has a lot of developing to do, but with one senior goal under his belt already it's clear that he shouldn't be playing youth football much longer.

City want to bring a new striker to the club this summer and with good reason as Gabriel Jesus continues to miss crucial chances and Sergio Aguero is still struggling with fitness issues while not getting any younger. But Delap is knocking on the door to be given more opportunities towards the end of the season to prove he could pick up the mantle. If not, then a loan spell to a top-end Championship, or even Premier League, club is in his near future.

Despite the heavy rain, City were still able to show their class as the other star of the show, McAtee, got the goal his own performance deserved. Robertson stole the ball back in the area and teed him up to fire the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box.

Captain CJ Egan-Riley then got in one the act in the latter stages as he advanced forward and got on the end of Kwaku Oduroh's excellent cross to catch the goalkeeper wrong-footed and direct it home.