Manchester United’s under-23 season begins this weekend and the team will be looking to improve on last season’s eighth place finish.

The squad is looking strong, with players like Hannibal and Shola Shoretire picking up first team experience in pre-season.

The likes of Dylan Levitt, Ethan Galbraith and Teden Mengi have all dropped back down into the under-23s recently, although they are expected to go out on loan.

They could begin the campaign with the under-23s, before a younger group of players take their place. United have promoted a strong core of last season’s under-18s side, including top scorer Charlie McNeill, Noam Emeran, Charlie Savage among others.

United’s under-23 season begins against Leicester City on Sunday at 2pm. Former United prospect Iestyn Hughes could feature after leaving for the Foxes in the summer.

With the FA Youth Cup, EFL Trophy and returning UEFA Youth League all on the fixture list for this season, there are plenty of games to go around.

The Red Devils’ side is packed with talent and picking out six players to watch is not easy. We have left out the likes of Hannibal and Shoretire who were standout players last season, and will be pushing for first team chances.

Everton v Manchester United: U18 Premier League
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Omari Forson

Attacking talent Omari Forson showed a glimpse of his potential last season for United’s under-23s when he stepped up in a late season game. He provided two assists and scored once, linking up effectively with Shola Shoretire.

Forson provided 10 goal contributions in 13 under-18s matches last season, missing a spell due to injury.

He has had a promising pre-season, scoring in two games, and recently signed a professional contract. There are high hopes for Forson at United.

Leeds United v Manchester United: U18 Premier League
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Zidane Iqbal

Young midfielder Zidane Iqbal also finished the season very strongly after missing a few months with injury.

Iqbal has also been on the scoresheet in multiple games in pre-season, and he looks ready to step up to under-23 football.

The youngster looks set for a strong career and if he can stay injury free this season then the sky is the limit.

 

Bjorn Hardley

Defender Bjorn Hardley has a big season ahead, with Will Fish and Di’Shon Bernard heading out on loan. Teden Mengi is expected to join them.

18-year-old Hardley has a brief taste of under-23s football, stepping up last season when called upon.

This season United will be relying on him, and after a strong campaign last year, the young Dutchman should be confident he can step up.

Newcastle United v Manchester United: U18 Premier League
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Isak Hansen-Aaroen

A wide range of midfield options may be Isak Hansen-Aaroen begins the under-23 season on the bench. By the end of the campaign, expect him to have solidified a starting spot.

The young Norwegian may even be pushing for a first team chance, he is that good.

Hansen-Aaroen turns 17 later this month and he is among the youngest players in the squad. It says everything about his talent that he is set to be playing under-23 football.

The teenager is a strong passer and dribbler who can dictate games. He is everything the first team is looking for, and it will be fascinating to see how he fares for the under-23s.

Manchester United v Middlesbrough: U18 Premier League
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Dillon Hoogewerf

Dutch forward Dillon Hoogewerf came on strong in the second half of last season for United’s under-18s. He was the only player to reach double figures for goals and assists at any academy level.

Hoogewerf is a lively attacker who has been carving out a role playing off the main striker. He built up a strong partnership with Charlie McNeill and linked up well with Zidane Iqbal.

Hoogewerf has already impressed at under-23 level and he shone in pre-season with two goals in a win over Stalybridge Celtic.

Queens Park Rangers v Manchester United - Pre-season Friendly
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Joe Hugill

Manchester United’s striker options at under-23 look strong, having been a weak point heading into the 2020/21 season.

Joe Hugill was quickly promoted after starring for the under-18s, and went on to score 10 times for the under-23s before injury curtailed his season a month early.

Hugill has been training with and playing for the first team during pre-season and United’s coaches will be looking closely to see if he can use this experience and really kick on at under-23 level.

Other strikers competing for places will be Charlie McNeill, Mateo Mejia, and D’Mani Mellor, who is fit again after a year long absence due to an ACL injury. Competition should bring out the best in all of them.

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