Manchester United’s pre-season begins on Sunday and it will be an opportunity for the likes of Mason Greenwood and Aaron Wan-Bissaka to start as they mean to go on.
Fringe players Alex Telles and Nemanja Matic will also be looking to stake a claim, as will youngsters James Garner and Anthony Elanga.
It is also a chance for the less heralded young players to show what they can do. Here is a look at three players who have the ability to spring a surprise and leave a mark this summer…
Ethan Galbraith was a key player for Manchester United’s under-23s last season and is already a senior Northern Ireland international.
A loan is most likely for him and Sunderland are reportedly keen. A strong pre-season would enhance his options.
Galbraith has the potential to steal James Garner’s thunder and leave a strong impression on supporters. He featured in the one pre-season game last season and came close to scoring.
Galbraith is a strong passer with a trick up his sleeve, and he will relish the chance to play against senior players.
Centre-back Di’Shon Bernard could get a chance with United’s current lack of options with senior stars away. Along with Axel Tuanzebe, Will Fish and Teden Mengi, he is one of just four available centre-backs this weekend.
Bernard played well on loan at Salford City last season, showing he was strong in the air, getting on the scoresheet a couple of times too.
He also showed his adaptability by filling in at right-back when required.
Another loan is most likely next season and while the chances of breaking through at United are tough, he could give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer something to think about by demonstrating how he has improved after a year out on loan.
The easiest way for a player to catch the eye of his coach and supporters is to score a goal and Joe Hugill will be desperate to show what he can do.
Hugill, 17, scored 16 goals for United’s academy teams last season and is a natural predator inside the box.
United are working with Hugill to add physicality to his slender but tall frame and this pre-season encounter against first team players will be a test of how far along he is.
Hugill will likely stay with the under-23s this season, but a strong summer might see United consider him for a loan, or even keeping him around as a first team back-up to learn from Edinson Cavani.
Manchester United pre-season fixtures 2021
- Derby County (away)
Sunday July 18, 1pm
- QPR (away)
Saturday July 24, 3pm
- Brentford (home)
Wednesday July 28, 8pm
- Preston North End (away)
Saturday July 31, 2pm
- Everton (home)
Saturday August 7, 12.45pm
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