Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United are prepared to promote academy youngsters to the first-team squad in the second half of the season.
Marcos Rojo is expected to permanently leave for Boca Juniors before Monday’s transfer deadline, which would reduce United’s first-team squad to 28 players, although that includes goalkeepers Lee Grant and Sergio Romero.
Solskjaer has settled on a core squad of 22 players this season and United’s only injured player remains Phil Jones, sidelined since June and cut from the Premier League squad. United have had an enviable injury record this season but, ahead of a hectic four months, players are bound to become more vulnerable to injury and Solskjaer could call on certain rookies to support the senior squad.
“Of course, with the youngsters, we do have some kids there that are looking like they can take the next step very soon,” Solskjaer said. “But, then again, in the times we’re in and the bubbles we’re in and the training bubbles, we have to be careful on when to promote them. As soon as they move out of the 23s bubble and into ours they can’t just go back there and train, so it has to be for a longer period.
“They can go there and play a game, so say when Brandon went and played with the 23s or Amad is going to play with the 23s, that means they have to travel by themselves, get changed in a different dressing room and just go out there and play with them. Then you’re back in our bubble.
“If they train with them, suddenly they’re out of ours and into theirs. It takes planning but there are a couple that if we get injuries and issues we can look at promoting.”
Centre-back Teden Mengi, 18, is training with the United first-team and the club has a recall option on right-back Ethan Laird, 19, who has been loaned to League One side MK Dons. Midfielder Ethan Galbraith, also 19, was included in the Europa League squad for the knockout stages in Cologne last year.