Academy season gets underway with a trip to East London
Posted by nickogs20 on August 22, 2008
The pre-season preparations are over and it’s time for Under-18 sides across the country to get down to business as the 2008/09 FA Premier Academy League season kicks off tomorrow, with the Reds facing a tricky trip to the capital on opening day.
Paul McGuinness’ side will be looking to build on last season’s respectable third-placed finish in Group C, and kick off with an inter-group match against 07/08 Group A runners-up West Ham at the Hammers’ Little Heath training complex. Tony Carr’s U18 side ran Arsenal close last season, and with a number of players having come through the Irons’ academy into Alan Curbishley’s first team in recent years this will likely be a stern test for the young Reds. Indeed, West Ham are likely to be deprived of two of their best U18 players due to first-team duty – England U19 striker Freddie Sears and defender Jordan Spence.
United have pretty much a full-strength squad available, with only defender Scott Moffatt definitely missing with a long-term cruciate knee ligament injury. Danny Welbeck may make his first appearance in a United shirt at any level after recovering from the knee injury picked up on the eve of the European U19 Championships, although it seems more probable that he will be part of the first-team squad for their game at Fratton Park on Monday. Federico Macheda will be looking to mark his 17th birthday (today, August 22nd) with a goal or two.
McGuinness has been speaking to manutd.com in the run-up to the new season, calling on his young charges to take inspiration from the wonderful exploits of Team GB at the Beijing Olympic Games this past fortnight:
“We’re looking for these boys to now become professionals. That means the right attitude towards training and everything they do. I’ve told all the boys to look at the Olympics and see how dedicated the athletes are. Getting into our first team is like training to win a gold medal, and over the next few years the boys really have to concentrate on that goal. There’s a long way to go, but they’ve all shown great potential so far.”
The United U18 coach has also ‘introduced’ the seven new first year scholars, who were finally officially confirmed this past week.
“Nicky has been with us in the Academy for a long time. He is a very exciting player and has the ability to beat defenders with his pace or skill. He is very quick whether he is running with or without the ball.
Nicky can make things happen in and around the goal. He’s creative and is capable of making or scoring goals.”
“Robert is an exciting player. He’s very quick and he is a good all-round player.
Robert can play in either position (left-wing or upfront). He is good in the air and he can make goals and score them. He has good pace which allows him to recover well, getting back into position to win the ball back.”
“Reece will obviously forever be saddled with the tag of being Wes Brown’s younger brother. When people see Reece, they see a striking resemblance, both in terms of looks and style of play. He has the same sort of attributes.
He’s good in the air, quick and he’s a big lad. Reece has settled in nicely. He’s been at the club since a very young age, but the start he has made to his professional career has been really good. He has concentrated right from the start, which is a feature we really wanted him to look at.”
“Conor is a good young goalkeeper. We took Conor over to the Milk Cup tournament in Northern Ireland in July and he did very well for us.
He’s an Irish youth international goalkeeper and he has impressed us so far. He reads the game well and he is ready to be part of the team and the back five.”
“Joshua looks like he’s going to be a very good athlete. He is tall, strong and a very powerful player. He’s a strong runner with or without the ball and he can beat defenders.
He is another player who has made a good start to his Under-18s career.”
“Davide is an all-round midfield player. He does a bit of everything – he can win the ball, distribute it well, (he’s got) a good range of creative passing and he has a hell of a shot on him.
He likes to shoot as well and he has the potential to score plenty of goals from midfield, either with a long range shot or bursting into the box to score with his feet or from a header.”
“He’s a very reliable central defender. Reliability is something you always want from a defender. Scott tends to do the right things and is a good decision-maker on the pitch.
“He gets into the right positions and has a good understanding of safety and risk. He looks like he’s got good potential to be a good talker and a leader, which you need at the back. He’s made a good start and a good impression.”
All seven should feature in the matchday squad for tomorrow’s game, which kicks off at 11am.
United (from): Devlin, Woods; Brown, Dudgeon, Gill, Stewart, Strickland, Wootton; Brady, Curran, James, Norwood, Petrucci; Ajose, Brandão, King, Macheda
West Ham (from): Stech, Street, Loveday, Miller, Ashman, Brown, Eyjolfsson, Fry, Edgar, McNaughton, Montano, Brookes, Harvey, Kearns, Lee, Barrett, Stanislas, Abdulla.