5 Man United youngsters who deserve a chance in Europa League


There may never be another Class of ’92 in English football, but Manchester United’s current crop have won the Professional Development League in three of the last four seasons.

And the finest young talents on the club’s books have often made their first big impact in Europe.

In fact, 18-year-old Wayne Rooney netted a hat-trick on his debut against Fenerbahce, while youth products David Beckham and Marcus Rashford both scored their first goals in continental ties at Old Trafford.

Several have made it into Jose’s group stage squad, while others could stake a claim for a spot if and when United reach the knockouts.

Here are five impressive Old Trafford youngsters who deserve a chance in the first-team.

Sam Johnstone (GK)

We’re stretching the definition of youngster slightly with the 23-year-old Johnstone, but the agile Preston-born stopper has come through the United youth setup and impressed during a succession of loan stints.

He certainly wouldn’t be overawed by a European tie at Old Trafford, having produced a clean sheet to secure a League One play-off final victory for Preston North End. And the talented stopper has conceded just four times in as many games for the Red Devils’ Under-23s this season.

In Current UEL Squad: Yes

Joe Riley (LB)

The 19-year-old defender has already had a brief taste of first-team football at Old Trafford – and considering how well he played, it’s rather a surprise that Louis van Gaal didn’t build on the player’s two appearances for the senior side.

He ran Midtjylland ragged on the wing in last season’s Europa League, and carries plenty of attacking threat down the flanks. An ever-present in the United youth setup, we’re surprised he hasn’t featured under Mourinho before now.

In Current UEL Squad: No

Axel Tuanzebe (CB)

There’s sometimes a worry about the physical strength of young players when looking to throw them into the senior side. Not so with Tuanzebe, as the Congo-born centre-back possesses height, strength and the ability to put in a crunching challenge.

He’s caught the eye further afield, featuring in England’s triumphant Under-20 squad in the Four Nations tournament earlier this month. Surely worth a run-out, especially if United are leading at home against Fenerbahce tomorrow night.

In Current UEL Squad: Yes

Timothy Fosu-Mensah (CB)

Admittedly the Dutch dynamo has made 12 appearances for the north-west giants’ first team, but his exceptional talent means he’s deserving of more than just the two appearances he’s made so far this season.

With United’s group eminently winnable, giving the 18-year-old a run of games in the competition should be in the Portuguese gaffer’s plans. He even proved his creative quality by chipping in with a lovely Premier League assist against Everton last season. What more do you want, Jose?

In Current UEL Squad: Yes

Scott McTominay (CF)

Not that United need much in the way of new strikers, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney – who netted three times on his United debut against Fenerbahce – Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in their side, but…

McTominay has certainly been making a case for inclusion. A well-taken double of bullet header and fine finish downed Derby County in a recent 3-2 victory for the Under-23s, and underlined the quality he possesses.

In Current UEL Squad: No

Man United are 4/7 favourites for victory, with Fener 19/4 to cause an upset, and 3/1 for the draw.

Meanwhile, if you fancy a young United ace to make their name tonight, Fosu-Mensah is 8/1 to score anytime.

So, will the next generation of Old Trafford aces lead the 6/1 shots to their first ever Europa League crown? Time will tell.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing



Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.