Saturday 16 December 2017

Thorpe and McNair: Who are Manchester United's potential debutants?

Tom Thorpe and Paddy McNair
Tom Thorpe and Paddy McNair

Mark Ogden

Louis van Gaal could hand debuts to Tom Thorpe and Paddy McNair against West Ham on account of the escalating defensive crisis at Old Trafford. But who are they?

Tom Thorpe - The Manchester-born 21-year-old has been a regular in United’s reserves and Under-21 team for the past three seasons and now captains Warren Joyce’s second string.

Older United watchers have compared Thorpe to a younger version of former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen, due to his accomplished ability on the ball and passing qualities.

Capped at every level from Under-16 to Under-21 for England, Thorpe boosted his experience with a six game spell on loan at Birmingham last season.

According to United’s official website, Thorpe is ‘assured and composed on the ball and a good passer. He is capable of bringing the ball out of defence and also offers an aerial threat from set-pieces in the opposition box.’

Paddy McNair - The nineteen-year-old from Northern Ireland is regarded as a future defensive midfielder by United’s youth team coaches having arrived from Ballyclare Colts as a midfielder in 2011.

Recent performances in the Under-21s have seen McNair impress at centre-half, however, and coach Warren Joyce has admitted that the teenager may take time to settle on a favoured position.

McNair was selected to play for United in their Under-21 Champions League campaign last season, but was sent off for two bookable offences against Bayer Leverkusen.

Despite his youthful promise, McNair’s lack of experience could force van Gaal to delay his senior elevation unless circumstances dictate an earlier than planned introduction to the first-team.

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