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5 Man Utd youngsters who will be looking to impress Erik ten Hag in pre-season

In under five weeks, Manchester United’s season officially gets underway with another trip to Wembley to face Manchester City in the Community Shield.

No, we’re not having you on either. In an increasingly jam-packed football calendar where we’ve gone from the end of the 2023-24 season, straight into EURO 2024 and from there straight into pre-season, there are no stops on the crazy train that is football.

Before that Community Shield clash, United fans can look forward to a pre-season campaign which gets underway on 15 July with a friendly against Rosenborg in Norway, the first of two friendlies in Europe before embarking on a tour of the United States.

We’ve earmarked the five young Red Devils who you should be keeping an eye on in pre-season.

Toby Collyer

Eagle-eyed United fans will have noticed Ten Hag slowly drip-feeding Collyer bits of information and keeping him around the fringes of the first team throughout the 2023-24 season, much like he did with Kobbie Mainoo before him.

Nothing is guaranteed, but all the signs point towards the 20-year-old defensive midfielder – who sat on the bench a handful of times towards the end of the season – having a more important role in 2024-25, with a view to making his senior breakthrough.

The Red Devils look short of options in defensive midfield with Casemiro as good as gone, thus Collyer could end up being thrust into the senior plans should he impress in pre-season.

Ten Hag seems to be high on the kid and it would save a new-look United money to pursue other transfer targets.

Finley McAllister

Local lad and under-18 captain McAllister has already proven wise beyond his years with his footballing brain and ability, but what sets him apart is that United DNA which is infectious at the club among fans and within the squad.

A versatile player, McAllister would be competing in for a midfield role, but he could probably slot in at full-back or in a specialised role if Ten Hag likes what he sees.

He’s got plenty of learning to do at just 18 and a loan seems most likely even if he impresses on tour, but there is a world where McAllister is drafted into the first team and succeeds.

Harry Amass

The name on everybody’s lips last season, with the way United fans hyped up a now 17-year-old Amass, you’d think he’d come from outer space to bring world peace.

All the hype was for good reason, though, and when you see the likes of Lamine Yamal balancing school work with skinning veterans at the Euros, it’s hard to deny that Amass probably deserves a chance.

The teenage left-back has gone from strength to strength since signing for United and is widely regarded as one of the best young English talents in the game right now.

He’s yet to make his senior debut, but he was around the first team in the second half of last season and with Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia both proving unconvincing on a fitness front, it surely can’t be long before United pull the trigger on the wonderkid. His potential knows no bounds.

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Shea Lacey

United are looking light on the wings in terms of both quality in depth and personnel as a whole, but if Lacey can get fit in time for pre-season, there’s little doubt in our minds that 2024-25 will be the 17-year-old’s breakout season. It’s his time to shine.

Shea Lacey playing for Manchester United's youth side during the 2022-23 season.

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Ethan Williams

We were very close to going with Ethan Wheatley – who made his debut against Sheffield United last season before being named the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year for the season – but given United’s lack of options in wide areas and their pursuit of Joshua Zirkzee, Williams makes the cut.

The 18-year-old is freakishly comfortable and equally devastating on either flank, despite being most prominently left-sided, and possesses a brilliant eye for the killer pass in tight areas.

A strong creator who’s been used to punching above his weight, he’s found goals easy to come by at both under-18 and under-21 level and is showing serious potential.

While all eyes are on Lacey, we believe Williams is a much more realistic candidate to step into the senior squad imminently, given his physical condition and the fact he’s just inked professional terms.