Considered one of the brightest prospects at Manchester City, Thierry Ambrose endured a setback in his development when, in 2015, he suffered a serious knee injury, severe enough that it kept him out for almost a year.
The 19-year-old returned to action last November, playing 25 minutes against Everton U23s for City’s EDS. He quickly found form after that, an impressive feat after such a long injury, bagging 4 goals in his next 4 games in the Premier League 2, including strikes against Chelsea, Everton and Arsenal.
Ambrose, who joined City at the age of 16, spoke at length to Foot Mercato about his injury, recovery and future hopes.
Thierry spoke of a “complicated” period of his career, after injuring his knee, starting a comeback, then missing another three months after damaging his right knee. The first injury in particular frustrated the attacker because before it, he had been training with the first team often and sensing opportunity. Ambrose said, “The coach told me that I would have my chance with the first team if I continued.”
For Ambrose, the injury came at the worst possible time, but having returned, his mental state is positive. “I am doing very well. I’m back on the pitch, I’m scoring goals. I’m happy.”
The season still has a couple of months remaining and Ambrose has set some modest targets, but can’t help dreaming of a first team chance. He told Foot Mercato, “My goal is to play a series of matches until the end of the season and hopefully win a title with the U23s. And if there is an opportunity to return to the pros, especially because of the injury to Gabriel Jesus, then why not.”
Ambrose knows his chances of first team shot in the final months of the season are slim and understands why. “I realise that this is not necessarily the best time for a youngster to be thrown into the team, especially a player coming back from injury. So I will finish the season with the U23s and we will see.”
The French youth international was asked about Pep Guardiola and said he has had several conversations with the Manchester City boss since he arrived. “Pep knows me, he’s not afraid to trust young players and has already shown it. He told me, ‘Thierry, I know your qualities, I know you’ve had a long injury… take your time.’ It was great that he knew my history.”
The 2016-17 season is approaching its final stage and soon it will be time for Ambrose and the club to decide ‘What next?’. At the age of 19, a loan move is obviously an option, but he explained that injuries have held back his development for two years. He offered insight into his future plans, saying, “If I finish the season well, in good physical condition and scoring goals, I have two options: either I plan to go on loan or stay at City if they have a bigger project for me. We plan to meet the club in the coming weeks to discuss this. Whatever happens to me, my goal is to launch my career.”
It’s a big choice for a talented player who has been held back by injuries, but if he does decide to go out on loan, he has a destination in mind. “I think that a loan to France and Ligue 1 would be the most suitable for me. We will see if there’s room for a player like me in France. We have to see which clubs are interested and if that club would suit my profile. I’m not worried about that.”
Next season promises to be a crucial one for young Thierry Ambrose, a year that could determine if his long-term future is at Manchester City or elsewhere.