Neil Wood issues rallying cry to United fans ahead of Youth League clash vs Dortmund

Manchester United’s brightest young talents are back in UEFA Youth League action tonight in a last 16 match against Borussia Dortmund.

United have home advantage for the one-off knockout tie, which kicks off at Leigh Sports Village at 8pm.

Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Neil Wood is the man who will lead his side into the game and he has issued a rallying cry to the club’s fans ahead of the match.

With no senior game until the Manchester derby on Sunday, Wood has called on the supporters to get behind the team and help push them into the last eight.

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Nick Cox, Head of Academy has also spoken to club media about his excitement on what lies ahead for United’s young guns.

“Everyone’s really excited that we’re playing against top opposition. Of course, at this stage of the competition, all the teams left in it are really good teams, but you want to play against the very best.

“The boys want to make progress, they want to get to a final. That’s part of our thinking, but for me and for our staff, it’s about how do we regularly put our players up against the very best so that we can learn, develop and improve? So the chance to play a high-profile fixture against European opposition is one that we welcome.

“We’re going to learn different stuff. What happens in our normal games programme is our boys actually become really familiar with the opposition. For some of our boys, they may have been playing against the same opponents since they were nine years old, and you slowly learn to work out how to solve the problem.

“Hopefully what will happen against Dortmund is that we’ll see a few conundrums that we’ve never faced before and the boys will have to work it out quickly and learn, and then put that learning into their toolbox for further on in their careers.”

Photo by Tom Purslow/Manchester United via Getty Images

The under-19s tournament often makes for a hybrid of under-23 and under-18s regulars, although United’s 23s are a pretty young group.

Anthony Elanga actually played in the group stage and his rapid progression should act as an inspiration for any of his peers at this level.

The likes of Shola Shoretire and Hannibal are expected to play in this game, and get the chance to strut their stuff against some of the best youngsters in Europe.

It would be a great night for the young starlets if they can make it through and continue their adventure in European competition for as long as possible.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.