Manchester United youngsters Dermot Mee and Rhys Bennett have spent the past week with AFC Wimbledon.

The goalkeeper and centre-back spent the week with the League One club as part of United’s new ‘pro experience programme’ for younger players.

United have already previously sent players to Sheffield Wednesday earlier this season.

Integral to the project is Justin Cochrane, who was this summer appointed as United’s head of player development and coaching.

manchester united afc wimbledon
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Cochrane, who formerly worked as first team coach at AFC Wimbledon, explained via the club’s website, “It’s an opportunity for the young players at Manchester United to go into senior environments in the league.

“They spend a week with teams, where I know the manager and the environment they have there, just to get a feel of what men’s football is really like.

“They get the full ‘open door’ in terms of seeing what it’s like in training, meetings, doing a warm-up for a game – all they don’t do is play in a game.

“It’s a great experience for these young players, who are predominantly used to playing in youth fixtures, just to feel the different levels of intensity and what’s required of them in a men’s environment.

 

“The two players have really enjoyed it! They’ve been welcomed since day one.”

It is good experience for the players to pick up. This season Dermot Mee had a brief loan in non-league in August with Trafford FC, and has also featured in the EFL Trophy against Lincoln City and Sunderland.

Bennett has featured in the UEFA Youth League, recently starting in the win over Atalanta.

manchester united afc wimbledon
(Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)

Opens doors for the future

The programme helps relations between United and lower league clubs and is indeed an eye opener for the younger players, and will better prepare them for when loans eventually come their way.

Cochrane confirmed that he had held talks with AFC Wimbledon boss Mark Robinson to generally discuss possible loan deals for January, not necessarily for Mee or Bennett, but to discuss what the League One side are looking for and whether United have a player to fill that need.

manchester united afc wimbledon
(Photo by Chris Vaughan – CameraSport via Getty Images)

He said: “I’ve spoken to Robbo about potential players. We had some conversations about potential loans.”

United loaned out 14 different players in the summer transfer window and more are likely to follow in January.

The club have to balance out the needs of the academy teams and not be left shorthanded either.

Teden Mengi, Matej Kovar, Anthony Elanga and Amad are all strong contenders to head out on loan in 2022.

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