New Manchester United signing Martin Dubravka was not part of the club’s travelling squad for tonight’s match with Sheriff Tiraspol in Moldova.
With Matej Kovar also sent on loan to Sparta Prague, this has enabled Radek Vitek to step up, with Nathan Bishop left at home, likely set to start the under-21 fixture against West Ham on Friday.
Travelling as third choice goalkeeper behind David de Gea and Tom Heaton is a big opportunity for Vitek, who has just stepped up to train with the first team this month.
Vitek, 18, won the FA Youth Cup with Manchester United last season and the club have high hopes for him for the future.
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Vitek has a great opportunity to learn
Being part of the squad for a European away fixture could be even more beneficial for Vitek than a home fixture.
His inclusion gives him extra chance to bond with his teammates and impress the coaching staff in an even smaller group.
Vitek is a Czech Republic under-19 international who signed for the club from Signa Olomouc in 2020.
He gained experience in the UEFA Youth League last season, impressing supporters with a particularly strong performance against Villarreal.
The Athletic reported last year how Vitek’s performances have drawn comparisons internally at United to Peter Schmeichel and Oliver Kahn, two of the best goalkeepers of their generation.
Vitek is a long way off becoming a first team regular, and will have to go out on loan at some stage to build experience and prove himself.
Being a part of United’s squad this week will be a very valuable learning opportunity for him, to work closely with David de Gea, Tom Heaton and the coaching staff, and he will also hope to catch Erik ten Hag’s eye.
Fellow youngsters Zidane Iqbal, Alejandro Garnacho and Charlie McNeill are all also included, each also included in a European away fixture for the first time.
All three were involved in the squad at Old Trafford last week against Real Sociedad, with the latter two coming off the bench, and they may feature consistently through the Europa League campaign.
For Radek Vitek, this could be a one-off, with Martin Dubravka likely to return for future group stage fixtures. He will want to make the most of it.