Four things spotted in Manchester United training as youngsters pounce on senior stars’ absences


Following their exit from the Champions League last week, Manchester United will summarize their quest to finish in the top four when they welcome Leicester City to Old Trafford on April 2.

After Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Aston Villa on Saturday, United are now two places and four points behind the Gunners, who still have a game in hand. It means that United are no longer the favorites to secure the final Champions League berth and the pressure is mounting.

But whilst several figures from the first-team squad have teamed up with their respective international teams for this current international break, a number of players have remained at Carrington to put the hard yards in ahead of the Premier League season resuming in just over a week’s time. Manager Ralf Rangnick, however, is not currently in the country, having traveled to Barbados to enjoy cricket.

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However, several first-team regulars, including Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, who were both left out of the England squad for their friendlies with Switzerland the Ivory Coast, have remained at Carrington. As well as that, in the absences of several senior stars, a number of youngsters have joined first-team training.

With that in mind, MEN Sports you’ve taken a close look at four things we spotted from Tuesday’s training session at Carrington.

Stanley steps up

Right winger Connor Stanley featured in Tuesday’s training session, highlighting that the first-team door has been opened for youngsters to train with the club’s most senior and talented players. Stanley, 20, has trained with the first team before but has not been a regular visitor to the senior fold.

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Only playing twice for the Under-23s this season, his inclusion in the session came as a surprise. Nevertheless, giving him the experience will do little to harm his development.

Considered as a skilful winger, Stanley trained with the first team as far back as February 2020, suggesting that he has not made the progress that was possibly expected of him back then. Nevertheless, he trained with the likes of Juan Mata and Sancho in the absence of more senior figures.

Connor Stanley (in the blue bib) trained with the first-team on Tuesday.
Connor Stanley (in the blue bib) trained with the first team on Tuesday.

jury features

Despite not turning 18 until next month, right-back Marc Jurado has been a regular fixture for the Under-23s this season, highlighting how highly rated he is. He has made eight appearances in the Premier League 2 this term.

As well as impressing for the Under-23s, he has also excelled for the Under-18s, playing a key role in their run to the FA Youth Cup final. He has made a total of 30 appearances across the youth academy this season and has often caught the eye of those who watch him regularly.

The Spaniard, although he already has several candidates in front of him and hoops to jump, will be looking to make strides towards the first team and the right-back berth over the coming years. But whilst he remains young, United’s coaches must believe he has something about him to allow him to train with the first team.

He was pictured trying to get the ball off Rashford in the session. Being tasked with going up against somebody of his talent will do no harm to his development.

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Marc Jurado (right) trained with the first-team on Tuesday at Carrington.
Marc Jurado (right) trained with the first team on Tuesday at Carrington.

Youngsters galore

As well as Stanley and Jurado being presented with first-team training opportunities, numerous other youngsters were as well. It has not been unusual to see a cluster of them be involved throughout this season, but it is hard to recall so many being included in one session.

Alongside the two aforementioned names, D’Mani Mellor, Charlie Wellens, Joe Hugill, Mateo Mejia, Noam Emeran, Bjorn Hardley, Rhys Bennett and Shola Shoretire were also involved. It is clear that United have used the absences of numerous senior figures to blood several youngsters into the first-team fold, even if it is only in a training capacity.

Sancho and Wan-Bissaka all smiles

Having both been left out of the latest England squad, it would have been easy for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Sancho to be hugely disappointed and be walking around Carrington with disappointed looks on their faces. Instead, as they made their way out onto the training pitches on Tuesday, they were both grinning from ear to ear.

Jadon Sancho (left) and Aaron Wan-Bissaka trained on Tuesday.
Jadon Sancho (left) and Aaron Wan-Bissaka trained on Tuesday.

Sancho’s omission from Gareth Southgate’s squad was hugely surprising considering how well he has performed in recent weeks. He has scored two goals and grabbed three assists in his last six Premier League appearances and has excelled.

Wan-Bissaka, on the other hand, could have been handed a late call-up following Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold’s withdrawals. Instead, Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters was given the nod.

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Nevertheless, they both looked happy and determined to impress on the training ground on Tuesday. That response to such a disappointing blow should offer Rangnick encouragement.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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