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Five Man United academy talents who could star on pre-season tour this summer



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Credit: Man Utd

Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United are limping to the finish line of this season’s Premier League and are on course to miss out on European football completely.

The club sit in eighth place at the time of writing, yet you can’t help but be cautiously optimistic, maybe even a little excited to be a United fan this summer.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS have taken sporting control of the Red Devils, and this off-season will truly represent the dawn of a new era.

There is so much still up in the air at this point; Ten Hag’s future, potential incomings as well as outgoings are all being balanced in a summer where several of United’s first-teamers will be bidding for international glory with their respective nation.

One of the few areas of the club that is flying is the academy, the U18s, in particular, being a shining light in an extremely dull season.

Led by Adam Lawrence, the side went on to win the U18 Premier League North, with many involved showing future first-team potential.

As is often the case, a strong academy presence will be expected on United’s first team pre-season tour, regardless of who may be in charge.

Below are five talents fans should keep an eye on, they may well be on the plane.

Shea Lacey

Almost every United fan will know who Shea Lacey is by now. The 17-year-old recently put pen to paper on a professional contract at Old Trafford and is widely regarded as one of the hottest prospects in the club’s academy.

A slight right winger blessed with an abundance of technical ability and a magical left foot, Lacey’s 2023/24 campaign has been heavily disrupted by injury.

A six-month layoff came to an end in April when the youngster trained with the first team, signed his pro deal and won the U18 PL North all in the same week.

However, the Liverpool-born talent announced at the end of April that he had picked up another injury and would miss the remainder of the season.

Fitness allowing, it is almost certain Lacey will be on United’s tour this summer. Whether or not this current injury will scupper any involvement remains to be seen.

Harry Amass

Harry Amass has featured on the bench for the first team on seven occasions at the time of writing, but is yet to make his debut.

Signed from Watford last summer, the 17-year-old has had an impressive start to life in Manchester, earning plaudits for his performances this season.

With the ever-questionable availability of Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia, Amass may have a great chance to get a run of games on tour this summer, and could make the left-back spot his own.

In fact, it is Shaw that he has found himself compared to at large. His stature, ball-carrying and technical ability are all strikingly similar to the former Southampton defender.

Assuming Shaw can put his injury issues behind him to become first choice left back next season, a strong pre-season from Amass could earn him a role as deputy going forward.

Ethan Williams

Perhaps the most interesting name in this list is Ethan Williams. The 18-year-old doesn’t seem to get as much attention as the likes of Lacey or Amass, yet he has been having a fantastic season, netting 16 goals and laying on eight assists in all competitions.

A two-footed winger, Williams operates predominantly on the left but is just as capable off the right. He has even featured as a full-back or a wingback on occasion, showcasing his versatility and potential value to a squad plagued by injury.

The youngster has regularly been involved in training sessions with Ten Hag’s first team and may well be in the plans for pre season.

It remains to be seen which of United’s wide men will be involved at international tournaments this summer, but Williams will likely be one of the first academy talents the club calls upon to bridge any gap.

Jack Fletcher

Son of United legend and current club chief Darren, Jack Fletcher joined United alongside twin brother Tyler from Manchester City last summer.

The lanky attacking midfielder was enjoying a fruitful start to life in the red half of Manchester before injury interrupted his season, although he recently returned to the fray, making some impressive cameo appearances for the title-winning U18s.

The 17-year-old is brilliantly creative and can make something happen out of seemingly nothing. When you couple such a great brain with the tenacity Fletcher has shown on the pitch so far, you have the ingredients for a top player.

Ten Hag has already involved the youngster in several first-team training sessions and is said to rate him highly.

Zach Baumann

Something that United’s midfield is crying out for – a calming presence. 17-year-old Zach Baumann is exactly that, impressing almost everyone who has watched him in recent months with performances seemingly beyond his years.

The long-legged midfielder just doesn’t seem to panic and appears to make the right decision in possession more often than not.

As has been a common theme with this list, Baumann has been involved in first-team training sessions of late and could find himself with a chance of heading on tour this summer.

United’s touring midfield department may be heavily redecorated. Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay and Kobbie Mainoo will likely be involved with their nations at the European Championships, while the futures of Casemiro and Christian Eriksen remain to be seen.

With Sofyan Amrabat rumoured to be returning to Fiorentina at the end of his difficult loan spell, that would leave Mason Mount as United’s only senior midfield option available for selection.

There will definitely be opportunities in the midfield on tour this summer, Baumann is doing all the right things to earn one.

Manchester United begin their 2024 tour against Rosenborg in Norway on July 15. Squad details will be announced in due course.