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.
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.
1. Ben Barber - CB - 3/9/1995 - uncapped
2. Sean Goss - CM - 1/10/1995 - uncapped
3. Ashley Fletcher - ST/SS - 2/10/1995 - uncapped
4. Ryan McConnell - CB - 3/10/1995 - Ireland U19s
5. Callum Evans - RB/LB/CB - 11/10/1995 - uncapped
6. Saidy Janko - 22/10/1995 - Switzerland U19s
7. Nick Ioannou - CB/LB - 10/11/1995 - Cyprus U19s
8. James Wilson - ST/LW - 1/12/1995 - England U19s
9. Josh Harrop - RW/LW/CM - 15/12/1995 - uncapped
10. Andreas Pereira - AM/CM - 1/1/1996 - Belgium U18s
11. Kieran O'Hara - GK - 22/4/1996 - uncapped (on loan at Trafford F.C)
12. Joel Castro Pereira - GK - 28/6/1996 - Portugal U19s
13. Matthew Willock - CM - 20/8/1996 - uncapped
14. Devonte Redmond - AM/Winger/ST - 19/9/1996 - England U16s
15. Oliver Rathbone - LW/AM - 10/10/1996 - uncapped
16. Joe Riley - RW/RB/CM - 6/12/1996 - England U16s
17. Scott McTominay - CM/AM - 8/12/1996 - Scotland U18s
18. Ruari Croskery - ST - 20/12/1996 - Northern Ireland U17s
19. Jordan Thompson - LB/CM/Winger - 3/1/1997 - Northern Ireland U17s
20. Demetri Mitchell - Winger/AM - 11/1/1997 - England U17s
21. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson - CB/LB - 2/2/1997 - England U17s
22. Dean Henderson - GK - 12/3/1997 - England U17s
23. Geogre Dorrington - GK - 17/6/1997
Schoolboys who appeared in U18s squad:
24.Marcus Rashford (LW/AM/ST) - 31/10/1997 - England U16s
25.Tosin Kehinde (CM) - 18/6/1998
26. Tyler Reid (RB/LB) - 2/9/1997
27. Axel Tuanzebe (CB/CM) - 14/11/1997
28. Charlie Scott (CB/FB/CM) - 2/9/1997
29. Oliver Byrne (GK) - 30/12/1997
30. Roshaun Williams (CB/RB) - 3/9/1998 - England U16s
31. Tyrell Warren (RB) - 1998
32. Zachary Dearnley (RW/ST) - 28/9/1998 - England U16s
Will do a few stats later when I have time :smile:
Next match: 8 March vs Liverpool (Home). Time TBC.
CURRENT U21S SQUAD: (exclude the loanees)
Next match: Monday 24th February vs Sunderland (Home), 7pm BST.