Charlie McCann is one of United's most exciting young midfield talents

Irish youth international Charlie McCann dictated the game for Manchester United in their opening match of this season’s FA Youth Cup campaign last week.

McCann, only 17, was composed throughout the 2-0 win against Lincoln City and his ability was blatantly obvious to all involved.

Despite a relatively small stature, McCann’s influence on the game was perhaps larger than any other player on the pitch. He bossed things from central midfield, alongside Mark Helm.

McCann is a creative, ball-playing midfielder and it was his evergreen comfort on the ball that was so impressive.

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McCann’s use of possession impressed

Equally, the ability to open up space was notable and McCann very rarely lost possession, showing impressive decision-making.

He and Helm were both faultless on the night, never going for the Hollywood, diagonal, crossfield ball when it wasn’t necessary but doing it when it had genuine value. Both of United’s goals were initiated by passes from McCann and Helm.

It’s McCann’s second full season as a United youngster. He joined Coventry City at the age of seven and would be there now were it not for the calling of United, the team he supported from a young age. He made the move in January 2018 and scored five goals in 24 appearances in the 2018/19 campaign.

Charlie McCann has ‘hunger and desire’

In the summer, McCann showed the attitude that has helped him reach this level by taking on extra training.

He worked on fitness, but also technical matters. His old coach was Wayne Pulford, who coached him at Brinklow before he joined Coventry. He described McCann having a “hunger and desire” above that of his teammates.

He’s having a good season with Neil Ryan’s under-18s. McCann has four goals to his name already in only 12 games and made his under-23s debut in September.

That’s where he’ll play next season. He and Helm are likely to become a starting midfield in the under-23s set-up, potentially with one of Arnau Puigmal and Ethan Galbraith. Hannibal Mejbri will be involved, too.

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

For now, it’s about continuing a good season. The FA Youth Cup is the perfect place for McCann to express himself.

Though last Friday’s win against Lincoln City was comfortable for United, the next round against Norwich City will be seriously competitive. It’s a test. McCann has to rise up to it. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will certainly be watching, as he was against Lincoln.

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Life-long Manchester United fan with a strong interest in the club's academy. Host of the Manchester United Weekly Podcast and United Through Time. First game at Old Trafford was the 7-1 rout of AS Roma in 2007.