Manchester City’s youth teams have continued to have their ups and downs since the start of October, with defeats common but hope coming in the form of a rousing UEFA Youth League win that keeps the Under-19s alive in the tournament following a poor start.That 4-1 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk at the ‘Mini-had’ came after City snatched a last-minute equaliser in Ukraine to keep their faint hopes alive.Other than that, results have generally been poor, with City’s EDS side sixth in the Premier League 2 table and seventh in the U18s standings. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! Yet development is the aim of the game at that age and November was a particularly good month for Taylor Richards, who kick-started the Shakhtar victory to announce his return to regular football following a knee injury that hampered his progress last season.Taylor RichardsRichards missed most of the 2017-18 season with that knee injury but at just 17 years old he has already become a regular for City’s Under-23s.And the right-sided attacking midfielder, signed from Fulham in 2015, has been able to count on Paul Pogba as a mentor.Though it has been a difficult season for City so far, Richards played a crucial role in what is probably the academy’s stand-out result of the campaign. A last-gasp draw against Shakthar in October kept Paul Harsley’s team alive in the competition, albeit only just, and when they went a goal down in the return fixture back in Manchester it appeared that the club’s Youth League campaign, of which so much was hoped at the start of the season, was heading for the rocks.But two goals from Richards, one a fine curling effort, inside the first 20 minutes of the second half turned the game on its head, with City going on to win 4-1 with further goals from regular scorers Benjamin Garre and Lorenzo Gonzalez.City are still three points behind Lyon and six behind Hoffenheim with two games to play, but Richards, speaking to the City website after his decisive display, believes all is not yet lost.“Qualification is still on,” he said. “It’s a tough task but never say never. We are all going to work hard after the international break and get back into training and keep pushing on.”Richards may well have benefitted from a word of advice from Pogba. The two have been friends since they were introduced when the France midfielder was at Juventus, and they are in regular contact to this day.”Paul’s like my big brother up here,” he said recently. “He always helps me. He gives me advice on what to do and if I have a rubbish game then he tells me.”He has [been to watch me and] tells me if I need to run more but that’s just Paul.”I feel like when I’m with him he gives me inspiration to go to the top and to be the best player I can be because I don’t want to leave anything behind. I just want to be at the top and he shows it’s there for you if you want to get it.”When he was at Juventus he came down and I met him and since then we’ve always been close. Sometimes I go over to his house for dinner.”It would be unfair right now to expect the youngster to replicate the kind of first-team exploits displayed by either Phil Foden at City or Jadon Sancho, who left the Blues for Dortmund.There had also been questions about his attitude at times, but after returning to fitness and now form, Richards admits he had been “lazy” in the past but is aiming to put that behind him.”It was a slow start to be honest — not playing and not being the Taylor I was before,” he said. “It was my first real injury. It was quite hard to take but with other people doing well you feel like you could push on yourself a bit.”But it happens in the game. My family was there for me and my teammates and now I’m here on the pitch and I’m just trying to push on.”Now I just don’t want to leave anything on the pitch. I run until I feel like I can’t run anymore and that’s what I’ve added to my game. Last time I wasn’t really running but now I feel like I work much harder than I did before.”To be honest I was a bit lazy. Now I feel like, since the injury, it wasn’t a good place where I was. Now I just don’t want to leave anything on the pitch, I want to go for it.”Other academy talking points Alongside Richards, Benjamin Garre, Felix Nmecha, Rabbi Matondo and Lorenzo Gonzalez have all scored twice for the EDS or U19s since the start of October. Matondo’s strike against Tranmere also sent the U21s through to the Checkatrade Trophy round of 32. Matondo, 18, was rewarded for his fine form when he was given his first senior Wales cap on Tuesday. The EDS shipped five against Hoffenheim and four against Chelsea in October but have rallied with wins against Tranmere, Blackburn and Shakhtar since. Things have not been much better for the U18s, who drew one and lost two of their three most recent games, with former City academy prospect Bobby Duncan sealing a last-minute victory for Liverpool. D’Margio Wright-Phillips, son of City hero Shaun, provided another assist for Cole Palmer in the U18s’ draw with Blackburn. Fisayo Dele-Bashiru and Jayden Braaf were on target as City’s U18s lost 3-2 to West Ham in the U18s Premier League Cup.Premier League 2 resultsMan City 1-4 Chelsea Everton 1-0 ChelseaMan City 3-0 BlackburnUEFA Youth League resultsHoffenheim 5-2 Man CityShakhtar 1-1 Man CityMan City 4-1 ShakhtarU18 Premier League resultsLiverpool 1-0 Man CityBlackburn 1-1 Man City All results since start of October Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.