Manchester United have a first, and only, Barclays Under-21 Premier League assignment in October when travelling south to face West Ham United this evening (Friday).
The match, which is being shown live on MUTV, presents Warren Joyce's third-placed side with an opportunity to regain top spot in the table above neighbours Manchester City.
Louis van Gaal has stressed he will use the Under-21 games to increase the fitness of some of his senior stars and has confirmed Michael Carrick will feature after being an unused substitute at West Brom. The midfielder will step up his comeback from an ankle operation against his former clubâ€™s second string.
James Wilson could be an option to partner Will Keane in attack but United's Under-21 top scorer Adnan Januzaj had a full 90 minutes at The Hawthorns. Keane, of course, scored a hat-trick in the Lancashire Senior Cup win at Accrington Stanley recently and is looking to get off the mark in the division this term.
James Weir promoted his claims with a goal in the behind-closed-doors friendly with Burnley last week but defender Paddy McNair looks set to miss out with a minor hamstring injury.
The Hammers, who will host the match at their Rush Green training ground, are second from bottom in the table but defeated Sunderland 2-0 in their last outing.
Loughborough 0 United Youth XI 2
A Manchester United Youth XI defeated Loughborough Students 2-0 with goals by Sean Goss and Ashley Fletcher.
Paul McGuinness fielded an Under-19 line-up that included Goss, Fletcher and Matty Willock in addition to his Academy squad in a match played in memory of the home team's former coach Mike 'Doc' Holliday.
The game was only eight minutes old when the hosts lost possession deep inside their own half and Marcus Rashford's intelligent backheel allowed Goss to fire a superb shot past Jack Howard and in off the far post. Rashford and Fletcher were convinced a penalty should have been awarded when they tried to reach a cross by Tyler Reid but Loughborough hit back and Dean Henderson was close to being embarrassed when his clearance struck Alun Webb and trickled wide.
After Rashford almost danced through on his own, Devonte Redmond spurned a glorious chance when scooping over from close range. Joe Riley was also off target from a promising position while Rashford was unlucky with a diving header from a Riley centre that flashed wide.
Willock started the second half brightly as the game opened up and, after firing wide, he curled a shot past Howard only to see it bounce back off the bar. United turned up the heat on a blustery night and, after Rashford was unable to finish off a devastating run by Riley, the no.9 capitalised on a mistake by Josh Dickens to release Fletcher and the target man finished clinically past the advancing Howard.
The Students responded with an incisive move that should have led to a goal by the lively Webb, but he snatched at the opportunity, before Jack Poxton tested substitute goalkeeper George Dorrington. United assumed total control but could not add a third goal during a dominant spell that contained some attractive football.
Fletcher was unable to profit from a poor Howard clearance, the keeper atoning by holding the venomous shot, Redmond drilled wide after slicing through the home defence and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson's mishit cross dropped the wrong side of the far post.
At the other end, Poxon attempted a drive that deflected wide of a stranded Dorrington but came back off an upright while Fletcher was twice unable to convert decent openings as the chances continued to come thick and fast. Rashford spun Luke Trotman to race clear but supplied a disappointing finish from an ever-decreasing angle.
Rashford latched onto a Riley through ball but was again unable to add a third goal as he fluffed his shot with the Reds unable to match the 6-2 goalfest of two years ago and yet were still good value for the victory, even allowing for the fact Ben Ward-Cochrane's last-minute effort was ruled out for offside.
Manchester Unitedâ€™s Under-18s slipped to defeat against a strong and well organised Sunderland team at the Aon Training Complex on Saturday.
It was a cloudy, but pleasant and fresh morning when the action commenced and the opening exchanges of this early afternoon Barclays Under-18 Premier League clash with Wearsideâ€™s finest certainly had a bright and breezy feel to them.
Buoyed by victories in their previous two outings, Paul McGuinnessâ€™ side were looking to complete the hat-trick and their early play suggested that the Reds were in the mood to achieve that target.
Sunderland, who were kitted out in a smart, all-blue kit, also raced out of the blocks looking more than capable of giving the hosts plenty to think about.
All the ingredients for a lively encounter appeared to in place and thatâ€™s how it unfolded with neither side assuming command but enjoying enough moments in their opponentsâ€™ half to generate encouragement.
Real goal chances were rare in the opening period, but the visitors made the most of one they created when winger Jordan Blinko found the net past Unitedâ€™s George Dorrington in the 24th minute.
The Reds introduced two substitutes, Callum Gribbin and Zachary Dearnley, at the start of the second half and it was the latter who was presented with a great opportunity to claim the leveller but his shot, following fine work by Marcus Rashford, flew wide of the upright.
Sunderland, who had been enjoying a positive spell, doubled their lead in the 66th minute. Dorringtonâ€™s kick up field failed to find the intended destination and came to ground at the feet of Sunderlandâ€™s Ethan Robson. The Black Catsâ€™ youngster took full advantage of his fortune and launched an unstoppable shot to give his side a two-goal cushion.
Not surprisingly, Sunderlandâ€™s second strike gave their confidence a huge boost and United had to dig deep in an attempt to salvage something from the contest.
Joe Riley raised hopes in the closing stages with two shots on target that required attention from Black Catsâ€™ keeper James Talbot but the visitors held firm thereafter.
CURRENT U21S SQUAD: (exclude the loanees)
Next match: Monday 24th February vs Sunderland (Home), 7pm BST.