By: William O’Toole
When the Manchester United U21 side take to the field at the Carlisle Grounds on Sunday they will be hoping to impress new Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal.
The new United boss has already warned the U21 squad that they will need to be ‘extra special’ to feature for him in his new United set-up.
Speaking ahead of the friendly against Bray Wanderers, United Reserve boss, Warren Joyce, said he is expecting a tough challenge from the Bray side.
“It is always good to play against men from different sorts of levels on different grounds in front of a decent crowd.”
Two Irish players could feature in the United team on Sunday, including Donegal teenager Ryan McConnell (18), who recently graduated from the U18 youth set-up into the Reserves.
“Ryan has only just come into the group but he’s obviously a really good competitor,” he said. “There are certain aspects to his game that he will have to develop but he’s got a good mentality. He’s a tough lad who reads the game well and uses the ball effectively.” Joyce said.
Paddy McNair could also feature in the game and he has also impressed Joyce “I think Paddy is one of the most improved players we’ve got. From the back-end of last season, Christmas onwards, he really kicked on.”
While Joyce will be hoping his U21s can rise to the challenge, the game will pose a very different challenge for the Seagulls as they enter the busiest part of the season, with the injury list mounting.
First they must face Shamrock Rovers in a crunch SSE Airtricity League encounter tomorrow night before the visit of the Red Devils on Sunday.
Manager Alan Matthews will be without Adam Hanlon, Eric McGill, Robert Maloney and David Webster through injury, while Ismahil Akinade and Graham Kelly must face fitness tests.
However Matthews is hoping to have new signings Philly Hughes and Joe Gorman registered and available to play.
“I’m expecting a good game. The United players might not be used to an environment like the Carlisle Grounds, but they’ll be technically good and will play the game at a good tempo,” Matthews said.
“It’ll be a great occasion for the fans and the whole community. We should see quite a few new faces and hopefully they’ll enjoy a good game and a good spectacle and they’ll come back again.