Birmingham City Women manager Darren Carter says 16-year-old Layla Banaras has “reached another level” and is an integral part of his plans.
Banaras has spent half her life playing at Birmingham City and became the youngest player from the Blues Academy conveyor belt to rise and join the first-team squad when she defeated Bristol in an impressive 1-0 Championship last weekend City on the bench came Ashton’s goal.
The versatile youngster capped a memorable week with a goal and an assist for the Under-21s in an impressive 5-0 win at Brighton midweek, with Hannah Fishwick, Charlotte Crees, Grace Murphy and academy goalkeeper Delphi Cole also contributing the Blues scored goals.
The teenager, who can play in both defense and midfield, captained Birmingham’s under-16 academy team last season before representing the club’s development.
Banaras played the full 90 minutes as the youngest player on the pitch, aged just 16 years and 25 days, in the FA WSL Under-21 Academy Cup final of the season against Manchester United at St George’s Park.
Carter revealed Banaras had impressed academy technical director Paul Cowie on their return this season and insisted quality young players with strong values continue to be rewarded with first-team opportunities at Birmingham City.
“Layla was brilliant with her attitude towards the U21s,” said Carter.
“Paul Cowie has said since the start of the season that she came back and took it to another level.
“We’ve had a couple of injuries with the first team and she’s probably come to us and trained with us in the last three or four weeks and you can see real progress in her getting the intensity and energy levels up.
“But her attitude was also excellent. You can see now that she is becoming more and more confident in the first-team environment.
“She’s training really well and she deserves this chance. I’ve always said it since I came here that if the young players come in and take their chance – and impress and show a good attitude – then I’ll always reward that.
“Layla certainly deserved it, it certainly wasn’t given to him, she earned her place on the bench (against Bristol City) and she will be with us for the foreseeable future.”
Iftikhar works with Belgium at the World Cup
Meanwhile, his trailblazer Shadab Iftikhar is teaming up with Belgium at the World Cup in Qatar. Sky sports news understands.
Sky sports news announced last year that Iftikhar had taken over as manager at Highland League club Fort William, becoming the first British South Asian to ever feature in Scotland’s senior team.
Iftikhar’s partnership with Belgium manager Roberto Martinez began when he was introduced to the then Wigan manager during his FA Level 2 coaching course. After impressing, Iftikhar was soon writing scouting reports on the Latics’ opposition and followed Martinez to Everton.
After completing his UEFA A license, Preston-born Iftikhar moved to Mongolia to manage New Mongol Bayangol and later became assistant manager of the Mongolian national team – before coaching Vailima Kiwi FC in the Samoa National League.
Last summer, Britain-Pakistani Iftikhar rejoined Martinez as part of the Belgium coach’s technical staff at Euro 2020.
Speak with Sky sports news Last year, Iftikhar said of his relationship with Belgium boss Martinez: “I don’t have enough hours a day to talk about what I’ve learned from the gaffer, he’s just helped my career so much.
“Every time I talk to him, I take away so much. He’s the smartest man I’ve ever met. I’m grateful to him and his staff – Shaun Maloney and Luke Benstead are brilliant people, they’ve helped me so much. And the gaffer, he got me where I am.
“I just have the utmost respect for him. He’s an absolute gentleman and honestly I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me personally on and off the pitch.”
British South Asians in Football
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