If there is one thing that is arguably more meaningless than the third-place playoff that Louis Van Gaal was moaning about in Brazil, it is pre-season friendlies. While pre-season is certainly important in helping players get in shape for the new season, playing four matches in three different countries in the space of a week or two isn’t really going to help them too much. In fact, if anything it is only going to hinder their progress.
But one of the reasons why so many fans are so eager to watch their side in action in these meaningless dead-rubbers is not only to see the new signings and how they adapt, but also have a look at the next generation of footballers that are likely to break into the first-team in the not-too distant future. Although Manchester United made two very good signings, most fans are excited about the prospect of the players coming through, who are likely to make a difference in the near future.
While youngsters like Marnick Vermijl, Nick Powell, James Wilson aren’t on the squad for the pre-season tour to USA, there are still some very good players who will be looking to strengthen their claims for a spot in the first-team before the end of the season. Here are three such players who will be looking to make a mark on Van Gaal and get into the first-team as soon as possible.
Although he has been overtaken by James Wilson as the club’s most-promising young striker, Will Keane, twin-brother of centre back Michael Keane will be looking to make the most of his opportunities in USA. Since winning the club’s Young Player of the Year award in the 2009/10 season, Keane has only continued on from strength to strength.
An injury suffered while playing for England U-19 side meant that Keane missed the entire 2012/13 season. But once he returned, the goals started to flow once again. Tall, strong, physical and always a goal-threat, Keane has shown that he can lead the line effectively. Although he doesn’t yet have a senior goal to his name yet, a good tour of the USA might just catapult him ahead of James Wilson and in with a shot at the first-team.