There are 16 academy graduates in the Manchester United first team squad for the Europa League clash against Astana.

Even so, there are more who were unfortunate to miss out. Here is a look at three of them…

(Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Reece Devine

With the ascension of Brandon Williams into the first-team, Reece Devine has been promoted into the under-23s. It’s another step in a rapid rise from under-16s football upwards. Devine has been thrown in the deep end, as a 17-year-old, in the under-23s game and has played eight times already this season.

He appears unfazed by the challenges and rigours of men’s football after playing twice in the EFL Trophy in wins against Lincoln City and Doncaster Rovers.

Devine is a little younger than most travelling to Kazakhstan and won’t feel hard-done-by after not being picked. The return of Luke Shaw from injury and Ashley Young from suspension didn’t help his case. However, he’s certainly a name to remember for when opportunities come up once more.

(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Luca Ercolani

A ruptured cruciate ligament injury for Ercolani has made this season a tough one.


His absence has allowed 17-year-old Teden Mengi to cement himself as a regular in the under-23s side. Ercolani is a talented player himself, though. This is the kind of fixture where he may have finally got his chance.

Dishon Bernard is set to start alongside Axel Tuanzebe against Astana. It’s likely Ercolani would have been given that opportunity instead had he been fit throughout this season and for this game.

The Italian can’t mull over that, though, and his return will be a difficult one. Tahith Chong had a similar injury a couple of years ago and did well to come back in good form. Ercolani must do the same.

(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Aliou Traore

The French midfielder was of the best players in now-first team coach Kieran McKenna’s under-18s side. Traore’s physicality and confidence saw him storm through midfield, score reasonably regularly and constantly dominate games. United signed him despite competition from Juventus and Man City.

In the under-23s, he’s been less of a stand-out player. But he is doing well.

His technical ability and decision-making are improving and it’s unfortunate, for him, that he’s competing with talents such as Galbraith, Levitt, Garner and Puigmal. Were he not, there’s no doubt he’d been in Solskjaer’s squad for Thursday.

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