United’s U18s will be looking to get back on track on Saturday morning as they take on Manchester City in the season’s first mini-derby at Platt Lane.
Last week’s 3-1 reverse against an impressive Aston Villa ended a run of six straight wins for Paul McGuinness’ side and things don’t get any easier as they make the short trip to face their local rivals, especially as a number of key players will likely miss out after playing their part in the U19s’ midweek UEFA Youth League defeat in Donetsk.
Defenders Nicholas Ioannou and Callum Evans, midfielders Sean Goss and Josh Harrop and striker James Wilson all featured extensively out in Ukraine and are expected to sit this one out, offering opportunities to a number of new scholars and schoolboys. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Jordan Thompson are likely to deputise at the back, while Wilson’s continued absence due to involvement at higher age groups should mean last week’s goalscorer Devonte Redmond again partners top scorer Ashley Fletcher in attack.
The probable absence of Goss and Harrop will mean something of a reshuffle in midfield, with Joe Riley, Scott McTominay, Ruairi Croskery and Marcus Rashford amongst the candidates to join regulars Matthew Willock and Demetri Mitchell in the engine room.
Tomorrow’s hosts come into the game six points behind the Reds in the nascent league table and having lost their last three, but a run of four straight wins at the start of the campaign provides ample evidence of the danger posed by Jason Wilcox’s team. Midweek European exertions may also affect their team selection, but recent England U18 call-ups Brandon Barker and Ashley Smith-Brown are ones to watch, along with Tosin Adarabioyo, whose brother Fisayo was on trial with the Reds in pre-season.
The game kicks off at 11am at City’s Platt Lane academy complex in the Fallowfield/Rusholme area of Manchester, with entry free of charge to all spectators.
Predicted United XI: Joel Pereira; Ben Barber, Ryan McConnell (c), Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Jordan Thompson; Marcus Rashford, Matthew Willock, Joe Riley/Scott McTominay, Demetri Mitchell; Devonte Redmond, Ashley Fletcher.