Manchester United head to Norway this week for the club’s first pre-season match of 2023.

Erik ten Hag will be keen to get minutes in the tank for the first team players he has available, with full-scale changes expected at half-time.

The second half of Wednesday’s game against Leeds will feature a more experimental squad, and this will provide an opportunity young players have been waiting for.

Two who have a very good opportunity to shine are full-backs Marc Jurado, 19, and Alvaro Fernandez, 20.

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Manchester United Pre-Season Training Session
Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Alvaro Fernandez and Marc Jurado are in line for opportunities

Manchester United are without a number of first team players right now with international players yet to return to Carrington after an extended break.

This creates a brief lack of depth which creates opportunity at the full-back position for Jurado and Fernandez to exploit.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the only senior right-back available currently, which raises the opportunity for Marc Jurado to play 45 minutes in the second half.

At left-back, there is even a chance Alvaro Fernandez could start, with Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia both absent. It’s probable Brandon Williams will get the nod, with Fernandez playing the second 45 minutes.

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A crucial pre-season for both Fernandez and Jurado

Both players are three years into their journeys at Manchester United. Fernandez quit Real Madrid to head to Old Trafford, while Jurado left Barcelona.

They joined in the same summer Alejandro Garnacho arrived from Atletico Madrid, and both could make a similar first team breakthrough eventually.

Fernandez has never played under Ten Hag, having gone out on loan last summer to Preston North End in early July.

The left-back played more than 40 first team games for the Championship side, winning their young player of the year award.

He will be looking to push his way into the first team reckoning, or even earn a loan move to a team in a top flight league later this summer.

Jurado spent last season captaining United’s under-21 side, and the FA Youth Cup winner did play under Ten Hag in the winter friendlies in Spain.

With a similarly tough queue ahead of him in the first team at right-back, he will be keen to secure a loan move.

Further opportunities will be available later in pre-season, with the game against Wrexham likely to consist nearly entirely of young players.

This early fixture against Leeds offers several youngsters the chance to get a headstart. Jurado and Fernandez are at the right stages of their fledgling careers to grab the opportunities ahead, and take advantage of a temporary rise up the depth chart.

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