21-year-old Manchester United talent Ethan Laird is currently out on loan with MK Dons in League One.
It’s his first time playing away from United and he has already been thrust into the action by manager Russell Martin.
He’s come up against Premier League opposition in Burnley in the FA Cup third round and played three league games on top of that.
Laird is learning a slightly new role too, adjusting to a wing-back role in Martin’s side.
He recently spoke to the club’s website about that change, saying: “My A game is probably attacking anyway, so I’ve just been enjoying it.
“With right-back, the defending is more 1v1s, getting up to your man. At wing-back, the defending focus is on positioning and pressing.
“It’s doing the same thing, but higher up the pitch. The way we play, we have the ball most of the time, so I am doing a bit more attacking.
“When we lose the ball, quick press and then focus on positioning.”
He was also asked which players he looked up to and picked out a former United captain.
“When I was younger, Ronaldinho. The stuff he used to. It was quite a few heroes, then Cafu and Antonio Valencia.
“Just stuff I can merge into my game from them.”
Martin seems to have immense faith in Laird, having thrown him straight into the fray.
He gave a detailed critique of Laird’s performance in the recent defeat to Charlton.
But even in disappointment, he made it quite clear how highly he rates the United prospect.
As per the MK Citizen, Martin said: “Ethan has a lot more to come, I was disappointed in the final third with him tonight.
“He’s shown his outstanding ability, he’s now got to perform on a consistent basis and understand what it’ll take to be a top player. He can be really exciting and powerful.
“He’s going to be a very big player for us. Tonight he had a big chance and that’s probably why I’m disappointed. He’ll only get better, he’s not had much work on the training pitch. He’s going to be great for us.
“He’s very powerful and strong. He’s got great pedigree and a good mentality. He wants to use this as a springboard to go play well at Man United and the only way he can do that is playing well here.”
Laird is getting that exposure that is so important to young players.
Under 23 football can take you to a certain point but then you have to make your mistakes and learn your lessons in games which matter.
Martin’s backing Laird to do exactly that and it seems like the 21-year-old will be getting chances to show what he can do.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is still in need of a player to seriously challenge him and a strong spell at Stadium:MK could lay the groundwork for Laird to come back next season and do exactly that.
Manchester United loan exits 20/21
- Aliou Traore
SM Caen (season)
- Joel Pereira
Huddersfield Town (season)
- Andreas Pereira
- Diogo Dalot
AC Milan (season)
- Di’Shon Bernard
Salford City (until end of season)
- Jake Carney
- Ethan Laird
MK Dons (Jan to end of season)
- Jesse Lingard
West Ham (Jan to end of season)
- James Garner
Nottingham Forest (Jan to end of season)
- Tahith Chong
Club Brugge (Jan to end of season)
- Facundo Pellistri
Alaves (Jan to end of season)
- Teden Mengi
Derby (Jan to end of season)
- Dylan Levitt
NK Istra (Feb to end of season)
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