Rashford, Rothwell, who next? Five more potential Man Utd graduates
Holly Thackeray | March 5, 2016
Young blood: five more Man Utd youngsters to watch out for
In what has been a patchy Premier League season for Manchester United, promoting youth prospects has been a way to galvanise the club and paper some cracks.
The typical Old Trafford tradition of promoting young-guns from within has led to much excitement, especially as many of those from (or to have spent time in) the academy have been among the most impressive Red Devils of late.
Over the past two or so terms, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, James Wilson, Paddy McNair, Donald Love, Andreas Pereira, Joe Riley, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, James Weir, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Will Keane and Guillermo Varela have been among those to make the step up from reserve football to senior games.
Now, seemingly forgotten midfield man Joe Rothwell has been invited to join the senior squad as Man Utd (10/1 to win the Europa League with Coral) prepare to meet West Bromwich Albion. The schemer has been stalled by injuries and a difficult loan spell, but does have an exiting nose for goal.
So, this got Coral writers thinking, who else in line from Man Utd’s esteemed youth ranks could be next to cash in on the favourable climate and bag a bow in this new wave of Red Devils promotions?
Sean Goss (centre midfield, 20)
Likened to maestro Michael Carrick for his eclectic range of passing, but with an extra edge of dynamism in the engine room, it is no wonder possession-favouring boss Louis van Gaal noticed this nifty midfield conductor.
Goss’ guile saw him picked as the cream of the youth crop to join United’s pre-season tour of the US, and selected but unused in several match squads, ahead of the likes of Ben Pearson (now on loan at Preston North End in the Championship) and Rothwell.
Speaking of his Old Trafford chance, Goss told press: “I’ve been a United fan my whole life and wanted to play for them, even when I was at Exeter [City].
“I never thought it would actually happen so, when the opportunity came along, I just couldn’t turn it down.”
The 20-year-old English but Germany-born talent, plucked from Exeter City’s academy in 2012, looks to be a pass-master in the making. Hampered by injury at the crucial moment this campaign, Goss is yet to feature and grab a debut in this glut of graduates. Yet, should Van Gaal remain in the dug-out he looks nailed on to be in contention.
Axel Tuanzebe (centre back, 18)
Another to have been hanging round the first-team set-up, towering defender Tuanzebe was tipped by many to be the first backline fledgling to be fielded this term.
Yet again though, growing pains have meant versatile Borthwick-Jackson and new addition Regan Poole have pipped the Democratic Republic of Congo-born centre half to the post.
Still, there is plenty of time for the athletic and physically imposing academy star to make his mark. Having become a regular for the Under-21s at just 18, the former under-18 captain has reportedly done enough to attract the attention of England’s youth teams.
Speaking of former Jimmy Murphy Player of the Year winner Tuanzebe’s talent, ex-Man Utd youth coach Paul McGuinness said: “It was the first time I had picked a first-year scholar as captain.
“I don’t think that has happened since Gary Neville was youth-team skipper. Axel did a very good job – on and off the field.” Watch this space.
RoShaun Williams (centre back, 17)
Perhaps behind Tuanzebe in the pecking order, Williams is a diligent defender and another to have impressed beyond his age bracket, having followed in the footsteps of fellow former Fletcher Moss youngsters Danny Welbeck, Borthwick-Jackson and Rashford et al in joining the Red Devils from the smaller club.
Already a favourite of Nicky Butt, who singled out Williams alongside Tuanzebe, the Englishman is noted for his maturity and lightning speed.
It appears United fans need not worry about the youngster’s loyalties either, as the local lad said: “Ryan Giggs is my hero I suppose because he has stayed with the club, and when he was acting manager he gave young players a chance.”
Callum Gribbin (attacking midfield, 17)
This Salford-born starlet and his peach of a left-peg have reportedly been coveted by the Red Devils’ great rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.
Man Utd have managed to cling on to their man, however, with the teenager poised to become a regular name thrown around in the coming years, having already tasted first-team training.
An artistic and languid-looking playmaker, with the ability to take people on at will, plus enviable set-piece nous, Gribbin has a unique skillset. Perhaps the furthest from a debut, but with Van Gaal you never know.
McGuinness has said of the fledgling previously: “Callum’s a very talented player and the type English football does not have a lot of.
“He can keep the ball with people around him. He can manipulate it and give space for a creative pass…he has had a dramatic rise really in this team.”
Demetri Mitchell (attacking midfield, 19)
Last but not least, is another left-footed trickster, whose road to the first-team has also been disrupted by fitness.
Red Devils supporters will hope to see the lively lad dust off his boots imminently and return to the wing, where he has skills and speed in abundance to snatch from his locker at will.
Previously linked with a loan move to Southampton, this Manchester-born flank threat should be seen in senior football sooner rather than later. Here is a potential gem of a player, and quintessential flying Man Utd-style wing wizard, ready to lift bums off seats.