Manchester United’s under-23 team will be up and running playing matches as soon as this week.
United announced that seven friendly matches have been arranged, with five of them against Football League sides.
The first will be against League Two club Salford City and will take place this Wednesday, August 12.
The second is against Swindon Town next Tuesday (18th) and this one presents a unique opportunity for 17-year-old midfielder Charlie Wellens.
This is because his dad Richie Wellens is the head coach of the Wiltshire-based side.
Richie Wellens was a former United trainee himself who made one first team appearance back in 1999.
Charlie Wellens, 17, signed a new contract earlier this summer, with The Sun claiming there had been interest from Inter Milan.
Wellens trained with United’s first team last September and is one of several highly rated central midfielders in the academy hoping one day to become a first team star.
He scored five goals in 14 under-18 games last season but this year is expected to feature for the under-23s. He returned to training in the first phase of academy returns last month, rather than with the under-18 group.
United’s under-23 side face Salford (Aug 12), Swindon (Aug 18), Morecambe (Aug 22), Stoke under-23s (Aug 25), Macclesfield (Aug 28), Doncaster (Sept 1), Everton under-23s (Sept 5).
These seven games over the next month are more matches than the under-23s have played during the entirety of 2020 so far.
The team only played four matches prior to the lockdown between January and March, due to a combination of sparse scheduling and fixture cancellations.
So the young players need as much game time as possible and several of the under-18s players will be mixed in where appropriate.
United’s under-23s have been promoted to the top flight in their age range and so this is useful preparation.
It also provides a stage for some players to potentially launch a first team push, or try and clinch a loan move.
The prospect of facing senior sides will not daunt the players. United’s under-23s featured in the EFL Trophy last season and topped the group before losing narrowly to Tranmere, beating friendly opponents Doncaster along the way.
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