Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong, and James Garner backed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to make an impact

Manchester United caretaker manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed his belief in the clubs youngsters to play a part during the injury crisis which has seen up to ten players on the sidelines ahead of the visit to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Wednesday evening. Solskjaer and United will be looking to return to winning ways after the 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday, which saw them fall into fifth place in the league table.

Solskjaer has seemingly promoted three teenagers into his squad for the match with 17-year-old James Garner, 18-year-old Angel Gomes, and 19-year-old Tahith Chong all being called upon ahead of the match. All three have played for the first team already with Gomes and Chong playing competitive matches for United, Garner has played during pre-season and has yet to make his debut for the club. Speaking about the teenage trio in his press conference on Tuesday morning, Solskjaer said:

“They’ve been part of our training for a long time now. Angel [Gomes] has been in that successful England U17 team, with [Jadon] Sancho and [Callum] Hudson-Odoi and [Phil] Foden, so he’s been a big part of that. I’m definitely sure that if he gets a chance he’ll do well. Jimmy Garner, he’s a Michael Carrick but 20 years younger, so I’m sure he’ll do well, and [Tahith] Chong, he’ll definitely be taking people on if he comes on.”

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Obviously, Solskjaer has not given anything away with his squad selection. He has not suggested the trio would start just stated that they may feature at some point in the match if needed. Gomes has played nine minutes in the Premier League for United this season, also making appearances under Jose Mourinho during the previous two seasons. Chong has played 28 minutes in the Emirates FA Cup this season, meaning the pair have 37 minutes of experience between them.

Gomes has been on the scene since the 2014/15 season when he first emerged in the U18s. Since then, playing also for the U19s (UEFA Youth League) and the U23s, the 18-year-old has made 80 appearances (63 starts and 17 substitute appearances), scoring 28 goals and 19 assists. Chong has been on the scene since the 2016/17 season, emerging in the U18s, also featuring for the U19s and U23s. The 19-year-old has made 54 appearances (51 starts and three substitute appearances), scoring 20 goals and 17 assists.

Garner has been involved in the youth setup since the 2016/17 season when he emerged in the U18 setup. He too has played for the U19s and the U23s. The 17-year-old, the youngest of the trio has made a total of 57 appearances (49 starts and eight substitute appearances), scoring five goals and seven assists. All three are good prospects for the future and under Solskjaer, who started his management career with United’s reserves more than a decade ago, it could see them fast-tracked into the first team regularly.

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Solskjaer believes that Garner, Gomes and Chong are all attack-minded players, which is the mentality that he has restored at the club since he replaced Mourinho in December once the Portuguese manager was sacked following a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield. United instantly started to attack teams, beating Cardiff City in Solskjaer’s first match as United manager with his side scoring five goals, the first time they had done this in the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign. Solskjaer said:

“They’re ready, they’re kids. It’s hard when you’re a defender coming on if you’re 16, 17, but as an attacker, you just go out there and express yourself and there’s your chance. They can win you the game, they don’t lose it for you.”

United has a bust period after the visit to Selhurst Park. On Saturday 2 March, they will face relegation-threatened Southampton at Old Trafford, then a trip to Paris where they will face Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg clash in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday 6 March, followed by a second visit to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday 10 March. Another away match, this time against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Emirates FA Cup will follow on Saturday 16 March.

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