It is nine years since Paul Pogba helped Manchester United’s youngsters to win the FA Youth Cup.

He has gone onto enjoy a glittering career, winning the World Cup in 2018 with France.

For his then teammates it has not been so straighforward. Next week he could come face to face with one of them.

Manchester United’s opponents for the EFL Cup became clear on Tuesday night as Luton Town defeated Reading.

Playing all 90 minutes in the Luton midfield was former United youngster Ryan Tunnicliffe.

Manchester United Reserves v Manchester City Reserves - Cup Final
Luke Giverin, Jesse Lingard, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Paul Pogba, Ezekiel Fryers and Michael Keane (Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Pogba’s former midfield teammate

Ryan Tunnicliffe was Pogba’s midfield partner in United’s winning FA Youth Cup side.

But like so many young players, Tunnicliffe could not bridge the gap between the academy and the first team, making only two appearances for the Red Devils in the League Cup in the 2012/13 season.

He has gone onto forge a solid career at Championship level, after spells at Fulham, where he left to join Rene Meulensteen in 2014, Millwall, and now Luton, with a few loan spells in between.

Now 27, Tunnicliffe is in his second season at Kenilworth Road, where he made 40 Championship appearances last season, scoring once.

 

He played all 90 minutes in Luton’s winner over Reading and will be looking forward to playing against Manchester United for the third time in his career.

Tunnicliffe featured for Fulham against United in January 2014, a match which ended in a 2-2 draw under David Moyes, and became infamous for one-dimensional tactics which saw the Red Devils deliver more than 80 crosses.

The midfielder was also part of a losing Wigan side which lost 4-0 to United in 2017 in the League Cup, during one of his loan spells. He played 19 minutes as a substitute.

Ajax Cape Town v Manchester United - Pre-season Friendly
(Photo by Peter Heeger/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Facing the next generation?

The way the fixtures fall, Tunnicliffe probably will not be going up against Pogba, who should play in the Premier League this weekend, and then the following week too.

United will field a much rotated team, which could see starts for Scott McTominay and Fred in central midfield.

There is also a chance for a couple of young stars to step up, like Ethan Galbraith, and James Garner if there is no loan deal in place by then. There is also a chance for Hannibal Mejbri to be involved.

Tunnicliffe is a face from United’s past, a near miss, and United’s future stars will have to out-perform him to make an early mark.

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