We have completed the signing of former Manchester City and England youth captain Ed Francis.
The 21-year-old midfielder, who skippered the likes of Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho during an 11-year rise through City’s academy, has signed a two-year deal at Meadow Lane to the delight of Ian Burchnall.
“Ed’s time at City gave him a tremendous education,” said the head coach. “He arrives here with great pedigree and experience of playing with some outstanding talent.
“He progressed through the ranks as a left-sided centre-back but felt, at around 6ft, he probably wasn’t quite tall enough to make it at the top in that role – hence his adaptation into a holding midfielder.
“It’s the position Michael Doyle has played his entire career and Doyler’s had a good look at him. He’s keen to work closely with Ed and I think he can add a lot to his game by passing on some of the smaller details.
“In the role we want Ed to play, you’re the pivot of the whole team. You have to understand space, where to position yourself to receive the ball and the defensive areas to cover. You’re also responsible for dictating the play, so it’s a hugely important position.
“We feel Ed ticks all the boxes to do a great job for us. Positionally he’s very, very good, he’s comfortable on the ball and has a lovely left foot – as well as a good physical presence.”
Having left City for Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2019, Francis captained the Molinuex outfit’s Under 23s on several occasions while helping them to the league title.
The following season he was included in the first-team’s pre-season tour but an untimely ankle injury dented his chances of breaking into Nuno Espirito Santo’s plans for the 2019-20 Premier League campaign.
Following a Covid-curtailed loan move to Swiss side Grasshopper, Francis took the brave decision to cancel his Molineux contract in pursuit of first-team action elsewhere. This paved the way for a move to League Two side Harrogate Town last December, where he made a positive impression in his 20 appearances - albeit in a less favourable role.
“Ed had his first real taste of senior football at Harrogate last year but it probably didn’t go exactly how he wanted,” said Burchnall. “He found himself being used at full back quite a lot but I know he sees himself as a holding midfielder, as we do.
“Our aim is to develop him into as good a player as he can be. You can see that a lot of the boys we’ve signed have the capacity to go on and develop further, which is what we want in the squad – hunger to get better all the time.”
More about Ed’s City and England career
- Joined City aged six and captained every age group from Under 11s
- Represented City all over Europe in the UEFA Youth League and travelled the world with England from age 15, playing alongside the likes of Mason Mount and Reece James and against players like Germany’s Kai Havertz
- Brought into first-team circles by Pep Guardiola aged 17, training with the likes of Vincent Kompany, Jon Stones, Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne