The delay to the season should not be welcomed and academy football may become an afterthought.

That won’t be the case at Manchester United, where youth football and development is crucial and has an impact on the first team.

United’s under-18 side were supposed to be preparing right now to take on Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup semi-final.

The match was due to take place on Saturday March 21, and has now been postponed.

Mason Greenwood knocked Chelsea out of the FA Youth Cup last season (Photo by Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)

Big test

Chelsea won the competition for five consecutive years between 2014 and 2018, and also lifted it in 2012 too.

Mason Greenwood ended that streak last season when he knocked them out in the third round with a stunning hat-trick, but United could not build on that and progress deeper in the competition.

This time it is a little different, with United putting a run together and reaching the semi-finals.

Wins over Lincoln, Norwich, Leeds and Wigan have put United into the last four. Blackburn and Manchester City are set to play out the other semi.

(Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images)

Delay helps United

When the competition is resumed, United will be better off than if the game was set to be played this weekend.

 

This is because Dillon Hoogewerf has more chance of being back in action after a lay-off with injury.

A summer signing from Ajax, Hoogewerf has performed strongly for the under-18s since arriving.

He has three goals in three games in the FA Youth Cup and is United’s best striker option at under-18 level.

He netted the winner in a hard fought victory over Leeds at Old Trafford back in January.

During this victory he sustained a hamstring injury and has been out of action ever since. Hoogewerf was a doubt for the semi-final this weekend.

Now with more chance to recover, Hoogewerf is more likely to be available for the tie.

The 17-year-old’s return would boost United’s hopes of winning the prestigious FA Youth Cup for the first time since 2011.

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