Thursday 28 February 2019

United's latest Academy starlet makes first team bow

With Man Utd 3-1 ahead and comfortable against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, Man Utd turned to youth. With a host of injuries and a threadbare squad, Reds youngster James Garner came on in the closing stages to make his senior United debut. It was only a brief cameo for the 17-year-old but nothing can take away the fact that the lad from Birkenhead has got a first team debut under his belt. It is surely the first appearance of many.

There was a lot of talk ahead of the game that the likes of Garner, Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and Mason Greenwood may get some game time, but in the end Garner was the only youngster to be subbed on by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

 He enjoyed a marvellous first full year at Under-18 level, making 24 appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals and emerging as an outstanding contributor. So much so, he was shortlisted for the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award. Garner's leadership qualities and outstanding work in the middle of the park helped the young Reds win the 2017/18 Premier League North title but he missed the national final against Chelsea due to his international commitments, skippering his country in the European Championship. Following a breakthrough season for the Reds, Garner put pen-to-paper on a first professional contract in the boardroom at Old Trafford and hopes are high he will push on further.

Garner was one of four youngsters to travel down south with the squad in the midst of an injury criris.  Chong joined the midfielder on the bench while  Greenwood and Gomes had to settle for a place in the stands.
Garner, who has been on the bench against Valencia in the Champions League and Reading in the FA Cup this season, became the 230th Academy graduate to be given his Manchester United first team bow and took to Instagram after the game to express his pride.

"Proud moment for me and my family making my Manchester United debut! Dream come true," Garner wrote.

Garrner has drawn comparisons with his first team coach Michael Carrick, Garner is a technically gifted central midfielder, who can play just in front of the back four, slightly further forward or even in central defence.
 The 17-year-old's technical attributes are incredibly strong for someone of his age, showcasing his superb talent.
 Solskjaer was full of praise for the teenager and believes he has a bright future ahead of him.

 He said: "I believe he's got the chance to have a great future.
"He knows we believe in him, we've got great faith in him as the next Michael Carrick. I know he's young and I know it's not fair on kids to compare to great players like Michael was, but he's the same mould, he plays simple passes, plays through the lines. Scott McTominay did really well today, some of the passes through the lines into Paul were excellent.
"You're at Man United, so Michael had the pressure of coming in after Roy Keane, that's just the way it is at Man United. I am sure he will be fine, with Nemanja (Matic) and Ander (Herrera) out, Garner will get plenty more chances. We might even think about him for Southampton on Saturday."

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