Manchester United take on West Ham today and a victory at the London Stadium could send the Red Devils into a top four spot in the Premier League.
It has been an indifferent start to their campaign this season as they have only managed to secure two wins from their first five league games, however, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted he was still willing to take a risk in their Europa League group-stage game and start several younger players, in order to give them an opportunity to stake a claim for a place in the first-team.
And while the Norwegian elected to start with Marcus Rashford up front, behind him was a trio of teenagers with Mason Greenwood and Tahith Chong on the flanks with Angel Gomes tucked in behind Rashford.
Greenwood, 17, scored the only goal of the game as he demonstrated his dribbling talents as he beat a defender in the box before rifling in his shot past Astanta goalkeeper Nenad Eric at his near post.
The young boys now – you will see them enough
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Solskjaer is without several stars to face the Hammers, as Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw have been ruled out of the fixture, but the manager is hopeful winger Daniel James will still be able to take part.
And with his choice of players limited the United manager revealed some of his young players are expected to get some games in the Premier League throughout the season, although he will be looking to predominately select his rising stars in United’s other competitions.
“They’re almost ready (to play in the Premier League). That’s why they’re with us, why they’re training with us and they have done well in training,” Solskjaer said on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday.
“The young boys now – you will see them enough. You will see them in the Europa League, the FA Cup the Carabao Cup and maybe a little bit in the Premier League.
“If we do well in the Europa League we have a chance to win it.
“In the early stages you can take a few chances, take a few risks, make some subs and give the youngsters a chance.
“I think it’s about time they had some exposure, and see if they are ready to play in the Premier League.”
Although Solskjaer and the club understand the dangers of putting too much pressure on their young players and admitted the team have a support system in place to help them adjust to life at United and on the big stage.
“You learn quite a lot when playing the youngsters,” Solskjaer said.
“You want them to go out and express themselves, to go out and perform so that have a platform to build on. I thought it paid off (against Astana).
“I understand that some of the boys, sometimes they can feel the heat, but I thought they were excellent.
“Of course we must protect them, find the right moment to put them in. Give them guidance behind closed doors.
“Social media and the media these days is so different. We will try to help and guide them as much as we can.
“We know the other side of how it was back in the 70s and 80s, it is different now. We have a lot of background support here.”
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