This evening should offer a clue as to where Angel Gomes sits in the Manchester United pecking order.
Gomes impressed in United’s Europa League game against Astana, but did he do enough to work his way into the first team squad?
Tonight provides United with a very distinct choice over Gomes’, with two fixtures to be played.
The first game is the match we have all been concentrating on. Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League.
The other one is Tranmere Rovers v Manchester United’s under-21s in the EFL Trophy.
The case for Premier League involvement
We are not expecting or even calling for Gomes to be named as a starter against Tottenham.
It would be a positive step if he is named on the bench against Spurs.
Gomes won’t fear Tottenham at all. He showed his quality against them in pre-season in China when he danced through their defence before scoring a winner from a tight angle.
It was a sign of what he is capable of and why United need to be patient with him.
This is a chance for United to show faith in him and bring him into the squad, and encourage him to do the same again.
What is the benefit of playing or naming Juan Mata on the bench? He was terrible against Villa at the weekend and must soon be running out of chances.
What is most likely?
Gomes’ is probably most likely to be with the under-21s. This is a knockout game against Tranmere and United will want to put a good team out and get to the next round.
The England under-20 international played in one of the three group stage games, with United winning all of them while conceding just once.
Gomes could get another chance in the Europa League against AZ Alkmaar, or Colchester in the Carabao Cup later this month.
This could be a good chance for him to get more game time, and United may be interested to see the attitudes of their young players who featured against Astana and see how they respond.
It would be a shame for Gomes to miss out on the first team game against Spurs after what he did against them in July. That might not be lost on him.
United are trying to get him to sign a new contract, and this distinct choice which could see him back with the under-21s may be frustrating for him.
If that decision is made, United need to sell it to him that he needs the minutes, and if he does well he will be back with the first team for the cup games.
United are low on options for the playmaker position at first team level, and Gomes has potential.
Jose Mourinho gave him his debut back in 2017. It would be a great story if he came on to make an impact against him tonight. But he will probably be at Tranmere’s Prentice Park instead.
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