Manchester United’s Under-18s will be looking to avoid a come-down after last weekend’s derby victory over City as Paul McGuinness’ side travel to Finch Farm to play Everton, in yet another Under-18 Premier League fixture.
The side will be looking for their fourth game unbeaten as they face a side that has a 100% record in the league’s play-offs. Both sides, having played two less matches than leaders Middlesbrough, have the opportunity to make up ground on the top side and distance themselves from the chasing pack.
The last time the two sides met this season was in February at the Aon Training Complex, United ran out 3-2 winners after going two goals down, goals from Ruairi Croskery and Marcus Rashford overturning the Toffee’s advantage. Overall though, United and Everton have a 1-1 record for the season, with United being beaten 2-0 near the beginning of the campaign.
McGuinness revealed prior to the match against Manchester City that mainstays Tyler Reid, Joe Riley and Demetri Mitchell were all side-lined for that match. It’s unknown whether Reid or Riley will return but it’s highly unlikely that Mitchell will as he’s got a shin-splints problem caused by his exuberance after only recently returning from an injury that gave him a lengthy layout previously.
Tosin Kehinde and Josh Doughty are both still yet to receive their clearance, meaning their stuck in the Under-16s for now, in addition to this, with an Under-15/16s match against St. Johnstone being played on Friday in Scotland, the likes of Angel Gomes, Faustin Makela, Jake Kenyon, and new recruit Indy Boonen would struggle to make it for the Under-18s fixture. This makes thing very interesting as to who will make the bench against Everton due to all the injuries, travelling and ineligibilities although the club have likely foreseen this event and prepared adequately.
Captain Axel Tuanzebe and summer signing Timothy Fosu-Mensah will drop back down to the academy side after their recent exploits with the Under-21s, showing how highly they are viewed within the club, with rumours persisting that Fosu-Mensah will be on the plane with the senior team to America for pre-season, but they’ll have to be on their a-game to shut out the likes of Calum Dyson and the highly rated Ryan Ledson.
Rest assured though, that whether they are a centre-back pairing, part of a defensive trio or if Fosu-Mensah’s protecting Tuanzebe from a defensive midfield role, both lads will be in the thick of the action on Saturday afternoon.
The Under-18s remain one of only three sides unbeaten in the play-offs and, with Paul McGuinness recently claiming that his team were ‘simulating a run-in to the title’, the young red devils will want to avoid a slip up on the road, especially to an Everton side currently above them in second and who have proven to be not only title challengers, but a legitimate threat to this talented yet inexperienced United side.