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Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams among academy kids in Man United squad

Manchester United’s squad had a distinctly youthful complexion as they flew out to Paris for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side trail Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 from the first match at Old Trafford and have since been ravaged by injury.

Nine first-team players – Alexis Sanchez, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Phil Jones, Anthony Martial, Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia – are either injured or ill, while Paul Pogba is suspended.

With so many absentees, Solskjaer has had little choice but to pad his squad out with academy graduates for Wednesday night’s match at the Parc des Princes.

The squad flew out from Manchester Airport on Tuesday morning as they aim to enact a miraculous comeback and reach the quarter-finals.

But who are the youngsters making the trip? Here’s all you need to know.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has named five academy players in his squad for Wednesday night’s Champions League meeting with Paris Saint-Germain 

TAHITH CHONG

19, Dutch, right winger

There’s no missing Chong with his enormous mass of frizzy hair and he’ll be hoping to make an impression on this unexpected opportunity in the first team.

The 19-year-old, who plays on the right side of the attack, was handed his first-team debut by Solskjaer last month when he replaced Juan Mata during the FA Cup third-round tie against Reading.

Chong, who was born in Curacao but has represented Holland up to Under-21 level, was signed from the Feyenoord academy in 2016 and continues to make rapid progress.

The recognisable figure of Tahith Chong checks in at Manchester Airport on Tuesday morning

The recognisable figure of Tahith Chong checks in at Manchester Airport on Tuesday morning

Man United fixtures 

Premier League unless stated

Wednesday Paris Saint-Germain (A)

Champions League last-16, second leg

Sunday Arsenal (A)

March 16 Wolves (A)

FA Cup quarter-final

March 30 Watford (H)

April 2 Wolves (A)

April 13 West Ham (H)

He immediately made an impact in United’s Under 18s but saw his progress disrupted by a cruciate ligament injury that meant he missed much of 2017.

The 10 months on the sidelines were difficult for Chong but he returned to cement a place in United’s Under-23 team and was then invited on the first team’s 2018 pre-season tour of the United States.

Chong was one of the few that won praise from Jose Mourinho during what was a turbulent tour, with the then-manager saying: ‘We needed people to create, have some initiative, which he did. He was enthusiastic, he was confident to play.’

By the end of the year, Chong had claimed the prestigious Jimmy Murphy Youth Team Player of the Year award and was on the fringes of the first team.

Chong made his Premier League debut late in United's win over Southampton on Saturday

Chong made his Premier League debut late in United’s win over Southampton on Saturday

Having been named on the bench for the Champions League match against Juventus and the Premier League game at Newcastle, he finally got on the field for half an hour against Reading.

And he made a – very brief – Premier League debut in Saturday’s 3-2 home win over Southampton when he replaced Marcus Rashford for the final minute.

ANGEL GOMES 

18, English, attacking midfielder

Gomes won the Jimmy Murphy award the year before Chong and has long been regarded as one of the current jewels in the United academy.

At the time of winning the prize, he was its youngest receipient and the 18-year-old has always seemingly been ahead of the curve.

London-born Gomes joined United’s academy at the age of six and lined up for the Under-18 team at just 14.

At the start of the 2016-17 season, the playmaker with a clinical scoring touch became the third-youngest player to score a hat-trick for United’s youth team aged just 15 years, 11 months and 29 days.

Angel Gomes (right) with Ashley Young as United fly off to Paris for Wednesday's second leg

Angel Gomes (right) with Ashley Young as United fly off to Paris for Wednesday’s second leg

United absentees 

Alexis Sanchez (knee ligaments)

Ander Herrera (hamstring)

Jesse Lingard (hamstring)

Juan Mata (hamstring)

Nemanja Matic (muscle injury)

Phil Jones (illness)

Anthony Martial (groin strain)

Matteo Darmian (knock)

Antonio Valencia (calf muscle)

Paul Pogba (suspended) 

Subsequently fast-tracked, Gomes made his first-team debut against Crystal Palace in May 2017 – replacing Wayne Rooney with two minutes remaining – at just 16 years and 263 days.

That made him the youngest player to turn out for United since Duncan Edwards in 1953 and also the first player born in the 21st century to represent them in the Premier League.

He has made just one appearance under Solskjaer so far – off the bench in the win over Huddersfield on Boxing Day – but that could well change in the coming weeks given United’s blunted attack.

Gomes has represented England at four youth age groups and was part of the squad that won the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.

Angel Gomes in action for United against Huddersfield Town on Boxing Day

Angel Gomes in action for United against Huddersfield Town on Boxing Day

JAMES GARNER 

17, English, defensive midfield

Garner made his first-team debut for United in their 3-1 Premier League win at Crystal Palace last week, albeit just a minute off the bench late on.

The Liverpool-born midfielder has been compared to United legend and current coach Michael Carrick because of his composed passing.

Garner was part of the Under-18 side that won the Northern Section of their Premier League in 2017-18 and he has captained the side numerous times.

He has worked his way through the ranks since the Under 8s and this season has effortlessly made the step up to Under-23 level.

Midfielder James Garner made his Premier League debut in last week's win at Crystal Palace

Midfielder James Garner made his Premier League debut in last week’s win at Crystal Palace

Garner has also been gaining plenty of experience of continental competition with United competing in the UEFA Youth League this season.

They have been drawn away to the Danish club Midtjylland in the last 16 of the Under-19 tournament having gone the group stage unbeaten.

The teenager captained the England Under 17s at their European Championship last year and caught the eye as the Young Lions reached the semi-finals, before losing on penalties to Holland.

Now he has made his first-team debut, you’d imagine more appearances will quickly follow.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brings Garner on at Selhurst Park for his United debut appearance

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brings Garner on at Selhurst Park for his United debut appearance

MASON GREENWOOD 

17, English, forward

Teenage striker Greenwood is in a United Champions League squad for the second time this season having made the bench for the final group stage game against Valencia back in December.

Prolific in United’s youth ranks over the last few seasons, Greenwood was also part of the pre-season tour to the United States and is poised to make a breakthrough.

Solskjaer name-checked the 17-year-old in a press conference late in January, saying ‘we have quite a few talents in that youth team that you’d like to see and you probably will see at some point before next season.’

Mason Greenwood (left) and Brandon Williams pictured at Manchester Airport on Tuesday

Mason Greenwood (left) and Brandon Williams pictured at Manchester Airport on Tuesday

Greenwood, who signed his first professional deal at the beginning of the season, started his career as more of a No 10 but has since developed into a highly effective striker.

He is enjoying a superb season so far, with 13 goals in 12 matches in the Under-18 Premier League and a further five in the UEFA Youth League, proving continental competition is his forte.

He also scored a hat-trick in the third round of the FA Youth Cup as United knocked out Chelsea, who have won the competition in the past five seasons.

Mason Greenwood scored a hat-trick as United knocked holders Chelsea out the Youth Cup

Mason Greenwood scored a hat-trick as United knocked holders Chelsea out the Youth Cup

That comes after Greenwood finished as top scorer in the northern section of the Under-18 Premier League last season as United won the title.

An England youth international to under-18 level, Greenwood now looks set for inclusion after injury kept him out of Solskjaer’s thinking for the FA Cup tie at Chelsea.

BRANDON WILLIAMS 

17, English, left-back

Another United academy prospect rewarded with a first professional contract at the start of the season having helped the youth team win the league last season.

The Manchester-born full-back is a lifelong United supporter and has been on the books at the club since the age of seven.

This season, Williams has been handed the captain’s armband for a number of Under-18 matches and has shown his attacking instincts by scoring three goals.

Williams has also made his first appearance for the under-23 side and has featured in the under-19 Youth League team on five occasions.

This first-team inclusion is a major step up for Williams and he will be in the squad as cover for Luke Shaw on the left side of defence.

Greenwood is in the first-team squad for the second time and Williams for the first this week

Greenwood is in the first-team squad for the second time and Williams for the first this week

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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