Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong were surprising absentees in the young squad Ole Gunnar Solskjaer picked for the Europa League clash in Belgrade.
So when will the talented pair next feature for the first team?
There was an academy flavour to the Manchester United squad selected for the trip to Serbia, alongside Brandon Williams, James Garner and Mason Greenwood, there were senior call ups for Ethan Laird and Matej Kovar.
But there wasn’t any space in the squad for Gomes and Chong despite them both already featuring in the two previous matchday squads in Europe this season.
They both trained ahead of the Group L clash, so they are not carrying any knocks or injuries.
Could that explain their absences? Are the new deals set to be signed imminently?
How have they fared this season?
It is looking like they will have to remain patient for further opportunities to impress in the Premier League as Solskjaer continues to pick experienced players ahead of them.
Juan Mata could be given yet another chance to impress in the number ten role, with Gomes watching from home, Jesse Lingard has also returned from injury.
Gomes’ chances of estbalishing himself as the club’s attacking midfielder have also been made tougher by the impressive performance from Andreas Pereira against Liverpool.
Gomes started the two games against Astana and AZ Alkmaar, and has made a brief nine minute cameo appearance in the defeat away to West Ham United.
However, the England Under-20 international has only made two other appearances this season. He scored in his sole match for Neil Wood’s Under-23 side in the Premier League 2, and played 90 minutes in the EFL Trophy victory against senior side Rotherham.
Chong has started in the opening group clash against the Kazakhstan side and in the Carabao Cup against Rochdale.
The Dutchman’s Premier League involvement currently stands at a 20 minute impressive substitute appearance against Leicester City and a four minute run out away to Newcastle.
He has featured twice in the EFL Trophy and scored twice and got an assist in the 4-0 Premier League 2 victory in Newcastle.
Daniel James could have been given a well earned rest and Chong could have taken his seat on the plane.
Solskjaer may be looking to get qualification for the Europa League knockout stages wrapped up as quick as possible, and then give Gomes and Chong a chance to shine in the remaining three games, with two being at Old Trafford.
What’s next for them?
In order for them both to develop and fulfil their burgeoning talents, they need regular first team exposure.
Over the next 10 days, United have away clashes at Norwich, Chelsea and Bournemouth to come, so there is going to be plenty of squad rotation taking place.
Will there be a role for Gomes and Chong to play? A lot may depend on how serious Solskjaer treats the Carabao Cup tie against Chelsea.
If he sees the competition as a realistic opportunity to win his first trophy as manager, he may opt to go with an experienced team, but if not Chong and Gomes could be being lined up to start that match.
United’s Under-23s return to action against Stoke City on Friday night and then travel to Doncaster on Wednesday for the under-21s latest EFL Trophy match.
Could Gomes and Chong be set for a return to Wood’s side to get some much-needed game time?
If the pair don’t get any first team minutes during this hectic period, the club may have to consider loaning them out come January, to ensure their development doesn’t stagnate. But that will only be worthwhile if they sign new contracts.
- Solskjaer praises development of full backs Shaw and Wan-Bissaka
- Solskjaer has reportedly rejected loan bids for van de Beek, Tuanzebe and Williams
- Cavani is finally bringing success to Manchester United’s number 7 shirt
- Loan for Facundo Pellistri can work if it fast-tracks his United success
- Fred’s late battling shows why he is so important to United