James Garner is spending the season on loan away from Manchester United at Watford.

The 19-year-old is embarking on a crucial stage of his development, getting a taste of regular senior football.

Speaking to the club’s official website, Juan Mata gave United fans an idea of Garner’s qualities.

He hailed the teenage midfielder, returning the compliment after Garner called Mata ‘class’ last week.

Watford v Stoke City - Sky Bet Championship
(Leila Coker/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“He is one of the players who, if he keeps going and keeps improving, in the way he was doing in the academy, he can be a very, very good midfielder,” said Mata.

“I really like him; the way he plays on the ball, his cleverness, his way of looking forward, looking for a pass and also his attitude off the ball.

“I always tried to motivate him and give him confidence. I wish him all the best at Watford and I am sure he will do well.


He’s a great guy and a very good player, as I’ve said before, because he keeps improving every day.

Watford v Luton Town - Sky Bet Championship
(Leila Coker/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Garner has made ten Championship appearances out on loan, playing in every one of Watford’s league games apart from the weekend 1-1 draw with QPR.

He was an unused substitute for that one, but will expect to come back into the side for the meeting with Bristol City on Wednesday.

Garner is the same age as another promising young central midfielder in Ethan Galbraith, who United have decided to keep around this season.

There’s a contrast in the approaches United have taken to their development and hopefully both will bridge the gap to the first team in due course.

Garner is still awaiting his first Watford goal, but it must be noted he has been moved to a more defensive midfield role in recent games, showcasing his ability to play at the base of the engine room as well as further up.

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