United Youth

Manchester United Reserves & Academy News

Cleverley makes Hornets switch

Posted by nickogs20 on August 17, 2009

United midfielder Tom Cleverley has joined the recent loan exodus from Old Trafford and signed for Championship side Watford until January, following Tom Heaton, Danny Simpson and Danny Drinkwater out of the door in recent days.

20 last week, Cleverley has made remarkable progress in the last couple of years. After signing trainee forms in 2005, injuries seriously hampered his first two seasons and limited him to just 25 appearances for the Under-18s in that time. At this point in 2007, there were major doubts over whether the versatile youngster had an immediate future with the club, let alone a long-term one.

United’s coaches clearly saw something there with Tom and kept faith, and 07/08 was a real breakthrough season. Previously most often used at full-back, a regular move into midfield provided a better stage on which to display his ability and he finished the season as one of the three nominees for Reserve Player of the Year, only narrowly losing out to Richard Eckersley.

An impressive (and prolific) start to pre-season with the second string last year prompted Sir Alex to summon Cleverley to South Africa for the latter stages of United’s tour of South Africa, an opportunity that the youngster grasped emphatically with a goalscoring first team debut against Kaizer Chiefs in Pretoria. With that form being carried into the reserves season, Leicester came calling in January, taking Tom on loan until the end of the season. Although that campaign was to ultimately be ended prematurely by a shoulder injury, he had already made a big impression as part of the Foxes’ league-winning side, appearing in 15 games and scoring twice.

The Basingstoke-born starlet has continued to add to his burgeoning reputation this pre-season, with another first-team goal in the friendly against Valencia (this time in front of the Stretford End) being followed by a brace on debut for England U20s against Montenegro last week. Sir Alex revealed after that Valencia game that he’d recieved several enquiries about the 20 year-old’s availability on loan, and Watford boss Malky Mackay has won the race to secure Cleverley’s services, initially until January. Tom will wear the number 20 for the Hornets, and will team up with England U20 colleague Ross Jenkins at Vicarage Road.

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