Seven new scholars announced
Posted by nickogs20 on July 2, 2010
With pre-season training set to get underway next week, the full list of new first-year academy scholars has been revealed.
The seven new names were confirmed in a series of tweets (1, 2, 3) from United in-house journalist Ben Hibbs. The majority of the seven were already known but there were a couple of surprises, most notably the presence of two goalkeepers in the new intake, a rare sight and something that – with Sam Johnstone entering his second year – should ensure fierce competition for the number one jersey in the U18s this coming season.
Here’s what we know so far about the seven new hopefuls*…
Born 2nd April 1994 in Manchester
Born and raised in Manchester, Tyler has been on United’s books since the age of eight, having been spotted playing for the renowned Fletcher Moss Rangers junior club in Didsbury (also the starting point in Wes Brown’s career). Most at home at centre-back, where his height, strength and pace make him a formidable opponent, Tyler can also play at full-back – indeed, his solitary appearance for the U18s thus far saw him impress at left-back in a draw with Sheffield Wednesday earlier this year, and with the plethora of central defenders available to Paul McGuinness, the wide positions may initially be his best route into the side.
United fan Tyler attended the same Urmston school as academy team-mate Ravel Morrison and has represented England at U16 level (appearing in last year’s successful Victory Shield campaign), although he also remains eligible to play for Jamaica or Barbados through family ties.
Born 2nd February 1994 in Meenlaragh, County Donegal, Ireland
Joe signed for the Reds back in March after Sir Alex Ferguson and academy director Brian McClair went to great lengths to secure the much-coveted keeper’s services in the face of competition from a host of Premier League clubs. Hailing from Meenlaragh in County Donegal, Irish-speaking Joe has played for local side Glenea United since the age of six and has been capped eight times by his country at Under-16 level, impressing enough to be somewhat predictably tagged ‘the new Shay Given’.
A big Celtic fan (United are his favourite English side), Joe’s biggest goalkeeping influence is Bhoys stopper Artur Boruc. Standing 6’1″ tall, the left-footed Irishman has ideal height for his position, especially considering his age, and boasts terrific reflexes, attributes shown when the 16 year-old appeared for the academy while on trial in last October’s friendly match against Maltese side Hibernians.
Born 16th February 1994 in Antwerp, Belgium
United beat perennial title rivals Arsenal and Chelsea to the punch (as well as Dutch giants Ajax) when snapping up Charni Ekangamene from affiliate club Royal Antwerp in March 2009. A versatile young attacker with strength and pace in abundance, Antwerp youth coach Alex Verveckken has described Charni as “a great talent”, going on to add that the teenager “is mentally strong and never nervous.”
Belgian-born but of Congolese descent, Charni moved to Manchester earlier this year after turning 16 and made a surprising late-season appearance in the reserves’ 1-0 defeat at Wigan. He was unable to make much of an impression in a 15-minute cameo that day but will be given every chance to impress over the next couple of seasons.
Born 27th August 1994 in Leeds
Son of former Bradford City and Middlesbrough forward John and second cousin of former Aston Villa and England midfielder Lee, Luke comes from a real footballing family. Having started out with his boyhood club Bradford, where his younger brother Jordan remains on the books, talented all-round athlete Luke followed in the footsteps of Tom Cleverley in making the move from the Bantams to Old Trafford and has regularly impressed at U15 and U16 level, notably as captain at last year’s Manchester United Premier Cup.
Primarily a central midfielder with an eye for goal and strong all-round game, Luke also showed his versatility when making his debut for England U16s against Wales last autumn in an unfamiliar right-back role. His final schoolboy season was cut short by a serious foot injury, but having already done enough to secure a scholarship, Luke should be fully fit and ready to go as pre-season training gets underway.
Born 18th August 1994 in Sydney, Australia
Very much the mystery man of the new intake, Sydney-raised Liam is a graduate of the Australian city’s International Goalkeeper Academy and originally moved to England with Liverpool after a successful trial in late 2008. He appeared for the Merseyside club’s U18 and reserve sides last season aged just fifteen but also spent time on trial with United, during which he was an unused substitute in the U18s’ 2-0 win over Sunderland in March.
While Liam is definitely something of an unknown quantity, United’s decision to hand the reportedly-6’3″ stopper a scholarship despite having already signed a first-year ‘keeper in the form of Joe Coll earlier in the year suggests the club felt they couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to bring the young Aussie into the fold. The competition for the number one jersey at U18 level figures to be an intriguing aspect of the coming campaign.
Born 13th January 1994 in Wrexham, Wales
A lively, talented attacker comfortable both in a forward role or in midfield, Tom has been on United’s books since the age of eight and has impressed at a number of youth tournaments, including Marveld and the Manchester United Premier Cup. Included in the U18 squad that travelled to Malta for a training camp last October, the Welsh teenager made the most of his opportunity by getting on the scoresheet in the 3-1 friendly win over Hibernians FC.
Tom combined his United duties with outings for Flint Boys and his local village side before moving permanently to Manchester a year ago. A Welsh Under-17 international, the Wrexham-born youngster scored on his debut for his country in a defeat to a Basque County U18 side back in February and has this week been named in the squad for a friendly tournament against Sweden later this month.
Born 15th February 1994 in Portadown, Northern Ireland
Already a first-teamer in the Irish League for Dungannon Swifts and captain of the Northern Ireland U17 side, Luke joins the Reds with a burgeoning reputation after his performances for club and country. Hailing from Portadown, the 16 year-old right-sided centre-back boosts the Northern Irish contingent at United to seven and has been compared with first-team star Jonny Evans due to his maturity and composure on the ball, with NI’s U17 boss stating that he “could be in the senior side very soon.”
Luke has starred at the Northern Ireland Milk Cup for County Armagh and impressed at Carrington during a number of trial spells, and while he’s a self-confessed Liverpool fan, so were Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and John O’Shea – if Luke fares half as well, United fans will have no cause for concern…
*All information (particularly birthdates and birthplaces) to the best of our knowledge, and subject to confirmation/clarification from MUFC in due course.