Stars Of The Future – Defence

As we all know United are world famous for nurturing young talent. The United youth system has produced some of the clubs greatest players including Bobby Charlton, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville so I decided I would look at some of the young talent that are currently on the books at Old Trafford.

I’ll be separating the article in to three parts and I’m going to kick off with the defence.

Ben Amos

Ben is a great young talent. The 21 year old goalkeeper may have been pushed out of the first team due to the signing of Anders Lindegaard but he has great potential that could see him break in to regular first team football in the future.

Amos has been capped at every youth level for England and the chance to compete for first team football on loan last year at Oldham Athletic has allowed the young rising start to get the experience on board that he can use to challenge Lindegaard’s place in the squad.

With David De Gea being bought in to replace the retired Edwin Van Der Sar and Lindegaard likely to be our no.2 keeper this year Amos has to impress when he is given the chances. A loan spell to a Championship side might not be a bad idea for him so he can perform well and come back to Old Trafford a better keeper.

Chris Smalling

21 year old Smalling joined United in 2010 and impressed Sir Alex enough to be offered a new 5 year contract during the off-season. Chris performed well last season and even managed to score a few goals and will look to compete for a first team spot with the phenomenal defensive pairing of Ferdinand and Vidic as well as new signing Phil Jones.

Sir Alex clearly sees a future for Chris at the club and while he may not break the defensive duo quite yet the future is looking bright. I’m hoping that Smalling and Jones will get the opportunity to make the CB role their own this season and try and build the beginnings of a great defensive partnership in order to replace Rio and Vidic when the time comes.

Phil Jones

Phil Jones is an excellent signing. Despite being only 19 Jones forced his way into the Blackburn starting eleven last season, a season which was unfortunately hindered by a knee injury. The young star may be the answer to our prayers as he can play in both defence and midfield but it’s in defence I see the young star flourishing.

As I mentioned earlier I really think that Jones and Smalling should be given the opportunity to build a new defensive partnership and the chance to not only provide back up and support to Ferdinand and Vidic but regularly challenge for their place in the starting line-up.

The Da Silva Twins

Fabio and Rafael have a strong future ahead of them at United. The Brazilian twins have both experienced regular first team football with the club and have already shown some great promise. The brothers offer a great pairing on the wings and their energetic style and excellent attacking pace really brings something to the United back line.

While Rafael has had more appearances in a United shirt than his brother (who has to compete with Evra) I think the twins have a bright future ahead of them. If they can remain strong and put in good performances this season I wouldn’t be surprised to see the two Da Silva’s together become regular fixtures in our defence for many years to come.

Jonny Evans

Evans became a first team regular last season while covering for an injured Rio but I think the Northern Irish international may struggle to hold down a place in the first team this year. With Smalling signing a new five year contract and the signing of Jones I have a feeling Sir Alex may favour these young rising stars over 23 year old Evans.

If this is the case and he becomes surplus to requirements I wouldn’t be surprised if Evans leaves the club in search of regular first team football during the January transfer window. It’s not that he’s not a good player because he is but long-term Smalling and Jones might just prove to be better players. This season defiantly looks to be a make/break one for Evans who will need to impress.

Ritchie De Laet

I am unsure of how to describe De Laet. Since joining United in 2009 he has been loaned out to various clubs each season. The Belgian is a talented player and hopefully will be able to get some regular and much needed first team action with Premier League newcomers Norwich City this season.

If De Laet doesn’t break into the first team soon I wouldn’t be surprised to see him leave, I think a strong season at Norwich is needed to catch the eye of Sir Alex and to earn the opportunity to experience regular football in a United shirt.  Even if he does do well the chances are that he will be moved on next summer regardless.

Reece Brown

Reece is a current member of the reserves team and brother of former United defender Wes Brown. Reece is already an under 19 England International and spent a month long loan with Bradford last season.

Bradford clearly saw promise in the young defender and wished to extend the stay but Brown returned to Manchester. The 19 year old definitely has a promising future if he can follow in his brother’s footsteps and a longer loan spell with a strong League side could do him the world of good.

Scott Wooton

Scott joined the United youth development in 2007 from Liverpool. A member of the Reserves and a former United under 18’s captain Scott is definitely one to keep your eye on. Similar to Reece, Wooton gained valuable experience while on a month-long loan with Tranmere Rovers last year making seven appearances and even scored for the league one outfit.

Wooton, also an England youth International, has already made his debut in the famous red shirt, replacing club legend Gary Neville in his testimonial match against Juventus in May! Wooton could do with gaining some much needed experience with a longer loan spell at a League One or Championship side and if he continues with this strong form don’t be surprised to see him break into the first team in the next few seasons.

By @JamesSportsBlog