Kids keep feet on the ground after taste of Euro life
TRAVELLING with United’s first team for their Europa League clash against Astana last month didn’t come as a shock to the club’s youngsters.
That’s according to United U23s manager Neil Wood, who has been tasked with keeping the six young senior debutants’ feet on the ground after the eye-opening trip to Kazakstan.
Di’Shon Bernard, Ethan Laird, Dylan Levitt, Largie Ramazani, D’mani Mellor and Ethan Galbraith all made their senior debuts in the Europa League game, which United lost 2-1.
Four more teenagers – Matej Kovar, Teden Mengi, Arnau Puigmal and Max Taylor – travelled with the squad but remained on the bench, with all but Levitt of the aforementioned group playing for the U23s against West Brom at Leigh on Monday night.
The Astana experience has been a steep learning curve for the youngsters, admitted Wood.
“I think so,” he said after the 3-1 victory over the Baggies.
“They’ve had good experience in the EFL Trophy this year too.
“I think that experience of playing against those first teams has helped them, so by the time they got to Astana, they weren’t shocked by it. They were used to it.”
The U23s stretched their winning run to six games with a comeback victory at Leigh Sports Village and showed the character that the club’s coaching staff are looking for.
Wood added: “I think it’s just building on those [first team] games and when it comes to a game like this, you can see that even though they went 1-0 behind there’s a bit of character to get back and fight back. So that’s a pleasing sight.”
Wood dismissed the notion that it might be tough to keep players’ grounded after they got a taste of first team action. The likes of Laird, Levitt and Kovar have been regularly involved in first team training and occasional away trips this season and Wood revealed all the United youngsters are eager for more opportunities with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
“It’s not so much of a challenge,” said Wood.
“They all want to play, so they’re all hungry and ambitious. So if there’s a game available to play at any level, they’ll play.
“We’re just trying to carry on what the first team are doing and have a similar style, so once they go up there, they’re fully prepared and they can slot in and play that system.
“We’ll keep working on that, that’s our goal.”
United’s Ethan Laird was in the Reds squad for the trip to Astana