Ethan Laird among six United youngsters training with first team

Six Manchester United youngsters trained with the first team on Wednesday ahead of a Europa League match against Partizan Belgrade. It may signal a debut for right-back Ethan Laird

It’s 19-year-old Brandon Williams who has been handed most of the chances in defence this season. But with club captain Ashley Young suspended in the Premier League, it’s likely that Williams will be rested.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may view this as the perfect opportunity to give Laird his first United appearance. 

Laird may get debut chance

The right-back is a serious prospect at United, so much so that some at the club were hesitant about investing in that position in the transfer window. Laird has suffered from injuries this season, including when Aaron Wan-Bissaka was ruled out in September.

It’s a concern for his future but he’s fully fit now and will be chomping at the bit if offered a start. 

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Laird was one of many academy players to take part in Solskjaer’s Wednesday training session. Under-23s goalkeeper Matej Kovar was involved and could be on the bench for the Partizan game. He saved a penalty in Monday night’s 4-1 win against Middlesbrough.

Chong impresses for U23s ahead of Partizan game

Tahith Chong scored twice in that game as he tries to regain Solskjaer’s faith following two disappointing appearances in the first team. Mason Greenwood is waiting for another chance after netting in the Europa League already this season. James Garner is a probable starter after making his full debut for the club in the away tie at Partizan.

Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images

It’s another very good opportunity for United and Solskjaer on two fronts. The first is to provide these young players with the opportunities that they deserve.

Garner, in particular, has had a fantastic season in the under-23s and done well in the first-team. Greenwood hasn’t played for more than 30 minutes since the start of October.

Solskjaer’s side could also boost their low-level confidence with a comfortable win. And they should. Based on this season, the likelihood is that they won’t. An injection of hungry and determined younger players could provide the necessary impetus for the Reds.

Angel Gomes injured for Partizan game

Angel Gomes wasn’t involved on Monday or in training on Wednesday as he recovers from injury.

The attacking midfielder needs more chances but this latest knock is a blow to that.

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Life-long Manchester United fan with a strong interest in the club's academy. Host of the Manchester United Weekly Podcast and United Through Time. First game at Old Trafford was the 7-1 rout of AS Roma in 2007.