Omari Forson #62 of Manchester United during the Champions Tour soccer game against Arsenal on July 22, 2023 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

5 Man Utd wonderkids hoping to impress Erik ten Hag in pre-season

Manchester United made great strides in the 2022-23 season, but Erik ten Hag will demand further progress in his second full season at the club.

Last term saw Alejandro Garnacho break through to make a major impact in Ten Hag’s first team and there are a number of talented academy prospects that will be hoping they can follow in his footsteps in 2023-24.

As ever, pre-season represents a real opportunity for the youngsters on the fringes of the senior squad. Here are five that will be hoping to impress in this summer’s friendlies.

Kobbie Mainoo

“He gets his chance because he deserves it. Because he showed it in the Under-21s and in our training,” Ten Hag told reporters during United’s pre-season tour of the United States.

“He showed a high level and now he has to show it in games. So pre-season is perfect to test him.

“He is an option to get into the game squad and to get playtime. We will see but I am confident he can do it and we have to wait we have test if it is going to happen.”

Mainoo made a few cameo appearances for United’s first team last season, but his first-team experience amounted to less than 90 minutes.

The 18-year-old midfielder has since made himself the story of the club’s summer so far, particularly against Arsenal, whereby he outshone the most expensive player in English football history on their first start for Arsenal.

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Omari Forson

The prodigiously talented attacking midfielder arrived at Carrington in 2020 after developing his skills in the youth set-ups at West Ham United and Tottenham. He’s since made something of a name for himself in the Under-21s and has long been talked up as the next prospect worthy of first-team opportunities.

Forson is yet to make his competitive senior debut. Ten Hag has given Forson considerable minutes in the pre-season victories over Arsenal, Leeds and Lyon and it appears a matter of time before he makes the step up.

Expect to see him on the periphery of the first-team squad in 2023-24, with game time in the domestic cups, and if not then a first loan away would surely be beneficial. The 19-year-old looks ready.

Alvaro Fernandez

Manchester United are said to have beaten the likes of Barcelona and Manchester City in the race for Fernandez’s signature back in 2020. He joined from Real Madrid’s famous Cantera and continued his development in United’s youth sides.

United’s Under-23 Player of the Year in 2021-22, Fernandez went out on loan to Preston North End last season and impressed at Deepdale in his first season of senior men’s football.

“Hopefully I can stay in the United first team,” Fernandez recently told Spanish outlet AS.

“If it doesn’t happen and I have to go out on loan, then keep working hard and keep growing. I am 20 years old and what I want is to play. But if it can be at United, much better.”

After returning to his parent club, Fernandez has played minutes against Leeds, Lyon and Arsenal and completed 90 minutes as a young side lost 3-1 to Wrexham in California.

Marc Jurado

La Masia graduate Jurado joins Garnacho and Fernandez in the contingent that arrived from Spain to offer some extra quality in the youth ranks at Carrington.

The Spain Under-20 international has been with the Red Devils since 2020 and now he’s pushing on the door for first-team action. Jurado scored United’s only goal against Wrexham, showing good movement in the box to get on the end of a cross from his compatriot Fernandez,

A right-back that can also play further forward as a winger, Jurado also came off the bench at half-time as Ten Hag swapped a more experienced first-team for a raft of academy players at half-time against Leeds and Lyon.

Joe Hugill

Wildly prolific at youth level – Hugill scored 11 goals in 12 appearances in the Premier League 2 last season – Hugill now faces some career-defining year or two ahead.

The 19-year-old striker scored against Leeds and led the line against Wrexham. His only senior competitive appearance to date was a handful of games on loan to local National League side Altrincham last season and it’ll be interesting to see how he factors into his parent club’s plans going forward.

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