Wednesday 21 March 2018

From Regan Poole to Joe Riley - Five inexperienced Man United players poised for Europa League action

Will Keane
Will Keane

An injury crisis has forced Louis van Gaal to call up several inexperienced players for the first leg of Manchester United's Europa League tie against Midtjylland on Thursday.

Here are five of those who could feature in Denmark.

Donald Love (21-year-old; first-team appearances: one)

Defender who joined United aged seven after being watched on his local pitch in Rochdale by Alex Ferguson. Can play at centre-back but is more comfortable at right-back, which means he is likely to start in Denmark. Has played three times for the Scotland Under-21 squad after qualifying for the country through his grandma.

Regan Poole (17-year-old; first-team appearances: none)

The centre-back's signing from Newport last year went under the radar as it came on the same day United signed Anthony Martial from Monaco for up to £58million. Terry Butcher, who knows a thing or two about being a centre-half, coached Poole at Newport after the teenager was released by Cardiff.

Joe Riley (19-year-old, first-team appearances: none)

The Blackpool-born teenager joined United in 2013 and established himself as a regular in the youth ranks because of his free-kick taking ability and his versatility. He can play at right-back, right-midfield, centre-midfield or left-back and "does not know the meaning of the word defeat", according to his biography on the United website.

James Weir (20-year-old, first-team appearances: none)

An attacking midfielder who joined United from his hometown club of Preston in 2008. He was a key player in United's title-winning under-21 side last season.

Will Keane (23-year-old, first-team appearances: two)

Came off the bench at Sunderland to make his first appearance for United since December 2011. The tall striker was regarded as one of the club's best youth prospects when he joined in 2009, but a cruciate ligament injury kept him out of the entire 2012-13 season and he has had to spend time on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, QPR, Wigan and Preston before getting another crack at first-team football.

United's absent players: Luke Shaw (leg), Antonio Valencia (foot), Guillermo Varela (unspecified), Phil Jones (unspecified), Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (unspecified) Marcos Rojo (shoulder), Matteo Darmian (shoulder), Ashley Young (groin), Bastian Schweinsteiger (knee), Adnan Januzaj (hamstring), Wayne Rooney (unspecified).

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