Despite all of Manchester United’s midfield woes, Mail Sport report that James Garner could go on loan to Sunderland.

The English midfielder has made six first-team appearances this season but United are reportedly weighing up whether a move may be good for his development.

Garner could even be involved today for the first team in the FA Cup away at Tranmere, and how that goes could influence the club’s plans.

James Garner needs game time

Though very capable already, as shown by his performances in the first team and under-23s, Garner could do with regular football at a senior level.

Sunderland offers that but the question is whether League One is the right level.

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More on that shortly but regardless, game time is crucial and Garner isn’t going to get it at United unless there are even further injuries.

United are patient with the 18-year-old. He remains very young for a midfielder breaking through and has a lot of quality.

He does, however, need to get used to the pace of the game and bulk up more.

It’s become a cliche with young players coming into senior football that the pace and strength of the game are difficult to deal with, but it’s true.

(Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)

Is Sunderland the right level and club for James Garner?

Joining a club halfway through the season can be tricky for any player. Doing so on loan as an 18-year-old presents a number of issues, the main one being settling into the dressing room and earning the trust of the fans.

Sunderland currently fit sixth in League One. They’re a club desperate to break back into the Championship and looked set to do so last year before failing in the play-offs. Jack Ross left and Phil Parkinson came in.

The Black Cats are unbeaten since early December. That kind of form is helpful for a young player arriving and Garner would certainly be welcomed into a relatively stable club with good ambition.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07: James Garner of Manchester United during the UEFA Europa League group L match between Manchester United and Partizan at Old Trafford on November 7, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom.
(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

That’s a key factor, too. Garner would be involved in a promotion battle that would be nothing like his experience at United.

Dropping down into League One means that the difference between going up and staying in the division is the difference between people keeping their jobs and losing them. It’s a responsibility that forces players to improve and develop.

The real question United fans will ask is whether Garner is too good for League One. That’s impossible to say.

Even so, experience in League One would be overwhelmingly positive even if some of the sides in the league are low on quality.

To say an 18-year-old is too good for that league is disrespectful and doesn’t pay tribute to the difficulties of performing well in such an environment.

Garner has plenty of time

Whether he goes to Sunderland or not, Garner has a long time left to push himself into the United first team.

“Jimmy Garner is a good player. He’s very mature for his age, so he can handle all the hype and all that comes with playing in the first team,” Nicky Butt said.

“He’s just got to be patient because he’s a very good player who will hopefully have a long career at Manchester United.

“There’s no rush with him. He’s still growing, still got to build himself up in the gym and naturally grow.”

He’s got to bulk up and playing in League One would force Garner to do that.

Such an experience could prove vital to his development and the pace of it. On the other hand, opportunities are available to Garner at United.

The decision is perhaps more linked to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s judgement on Garner, about whether he’s ready for regular games in the Premier League. Based on the evidence of the season so far, the answer is no and so a loan would be good for Garner.

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