I’ll keep this short and sweet. Tomorrow night might see the 4th round tie of the FA Youth Cup take place between Manchester United and Derby County…..then again…..if it doesn’t warm up considerably during the day tomorrow, the pitch at Moss Lane (that’s no doubt been frozen for the best part of 6 days) will have no chance of defrosting….therefore right now I’d give the game a less than 50/50 chance of getting the go-ahead.
If the fixture does survive United will be wary of Derby’s previous match winner Kane Richards and Mason Bennett. Bennett, at just 15 years of age, is an England U17 International and Richards scored the only goal in extra-time to knock Arsenal out of the competition in the last round. Bennett is said to be strong and tricky with an eye for both goal and a pass. Alongside Bennett and Richards, Derby also boast another England U17 International in Will Hughes who looks fast skilful.
Unfortunately for United their visit to Stoke City at the weekend was postponed due to a frozen pitch so they come into the game having played only one game in over three weeks. Not ideal preparation for what promises to be a tricky test in tricky conditions.
The absence of Rothwell and Lawrence will be a big blow for Paul McGuiness I’m sure, but if the team can rectify some simple defensive mistakes there’s no reason why they can’t advance to the quarter-final stages where they’ll travel to either Portsmouth or Swansea.
I think the manager will feel forced into making at least one change from the side that drew with Bolton last week. Luke Hendrie will be replaced at right back by either Donald Love or possibly James Weir (if he’s recovered from injury). One other possibility is he shifts Luke Hendrie alongside Jack Rudge to bolster the centre of midfield with Rudge asked to do a job on Bennett. If he decides to do that I’m sure Sam Byrne will make way despite one of his more promising performances last week, he can and will feel a little unlucky if that happens. In my view Gyliano van Velzen will do well do avoid the bullet for this but his 2nd year status will proabably spare him. His seemingly untouchable starting place in the team is becoming an ever more frustrating factor of this season for me.
Predicted Line-Up: Jacob / Love, McCullough, Blackett, Ekangamene / Rudge, Hendrie, Daehli / Januzaj, Barmby, GvV
Bench: Sutherland, Byrne, Wilkinson, Weir, Gorre
A few Guiness before the match with updates starting from the bar at about 6:00pm via @Rimmerstweets.
For some more well informed and enthusiastic discussion about all things Academy, please follow these lads on Twitter who I’m sure will also be there tomorrow night.
@thisistheone99 @Will_Lumb @mrmujac @PeterBolton3 @manutdreserves @ManUnitedYouth & @CraigNorwood
All being well the match kicks-off at 19:00 with coverage starting on MUTV at 18:30. Entry is £3 adults and I think a quid for kids, but if you are going to venture down there, be sure to wrap up warm!
Thanks also to Aidan for his input. @englandyouth