Manchester United: Pre-season tour dilemma for Sir Alex
With Manchester United starting pre-season training this week I feel it is the right time to examine their whistle stop tour of South Africa and China. Many players are unavailable through either injury or international commitments meaning Ferguson is unlikely to know until the eve of departure exactly who will be on the flight to Durban on July 16.
Among the names that will be missing from the tour (other than the Euro contingent who will receive their mandatory three week break) are Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling and Darren Fletcher, who will be given extra time to recover from their respective injuries. Tom Cleverley and Ryan Giggs, who have been named in the British Olympic squad with David De Gea set to represent Spain. There will be a further three youth players unavailable for the tour those being Sam Johnstone, Michael Keane and England U19 captain Tom Thorpe who will all be performing at the European U19s championship this month, the touring party is looking rather thin on the ground.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s only option is to rely on the youth set up he has invested so heavily in over the years. It is a great opportunity for some of the young players to catch the manager’s eye and stake a claim for a regular first team place. They need only follow the example set by Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck last year, both made a massive impact on the tour and forced their way into the Manchester United starting XI and finished up representing their country at prestigious tournaments.
Taking all these absentees into account I have put together a possible tour squad. I've not included Berbatov, Pogba and Friers as they still have question marks hanging over their futures at the club.
I am familiar with both the Manchester united reserves and academy so I can pick out a few key players you may not be too familiar with.
Jesse Lingard, 19, Midfield/Forward
Generally used as a winger for the reserves but can also be played off the front man, he was named on the shortlist for the Reserve Player of the Year award narrowly missing out to Michael Keane. He has great energy and a tremendous work ethic combined with a natural skill and ability on the ball, he may need to toughen up if he is to break into the first team but he is more likely to go out on loan this season.
Larnell Cole, 19, Winger
Lightening fast and skillful to boot Larnell Cole was the final shortlisted player for the Reserve Player of the Year award. Larnell Cole has made a vast improvement this past year gaining physical strength and improving his confidence he has proved a lot of doubters wrong and has shown he has what it takes to make the step up to the first team.
Ryan Tunnicliffe, 19, Midfielder
“Tunnicliffe may well be around the first team."
Warren Joyce reserve team boss seems to think Tunnicliffe could possibly feature in the first team squad next year, high praise indeed but what the young lad has to offer. Tough tackling aggressive central midfielder he spent the second half of last season at Peterborough United making 28 appearances for the Posh providing three assists. At the age of 19 he still has a lot to learn but could he be that combative midfielder the united fans so desperately seek.
Three young talents but there are many more to be discovered within the United youth system. Maybe Sir Alex could add a few more names before the tour gets underway but for that we will have to wait and see.