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Demetri Mitchell could be given a chance this pre-season, he could become a star…

Manchester United Academy graduate Demetri Mitchell has risen through the ranks at the Old Trafford club at a great speed. Whilst playing at the U18 level, the player had problems with injury but persevered and moved up to the U21 league, which has now become the U23 league. At the end of last season, after a string of good performances by Mitchell throughout the U23 season, even after being converted from a left-winger to a left-back, the 20-year-old was rewarded with his Manchester United and Premier League debut, starting against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford – the final match of the season. Manager Jose Mourinho had to rest some of his key players for the match after a tough season, keeping them fresh for the UEFA Europa League final days later.

Joel Pereira made his full debut, previously staring for United against Wigan Athletic in the Emirates FA Cup, Scott McTominay too, after making his debut against Arsenal earlier in the season. Josh Harrop, now a Preston North End player after leaving the club as a free agent in the summer, also made his full debut, his first and last appearance for the first team, scoring a sublime goal 15 minutes into the match, which ended a 2-0 victory for United with Paul Pogba scoring the other goal, setting up Harrop’s chance from deep within United’s half. Mitchell played well in his Premier League debut, showing Mourinho the options he has to his calling heading into the new season.

The left-back position is one where there are some problems for United; the fitness and injury record of Luke Shaw is the main problem and the fact there is no true left-back competition with Marcos Rojo playing better in a central defensive role (but he is injured), Daley Blind being the same as his Argentinian teammate and the likes of Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Joe Riley perhaps not ready to play for the first team; Riley has been injured and Borthwick-Jackson had the season from hell on loan with Wolverhampton Wanderers, not playing a match since November last year and ending the season back with the U23’s. Mitchell could be that contender at left-back Shaw needs to bring the best out of his game – competition does some good at the end of the day.

Mitchell was rewarded with a place in Mourinho’s pre-season squad which travelled to Los Angeles last Sunday for a week’s training camp before taking on LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona before returning to Europe to face Valerenga and Sampdoria in friendlies before contesting the UEFA Super Cup with UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid just before the new Premier League season starts on the 13th August with a home clash with West Ham United. Mitchell will be eyeing a place in the starting XI of some, if not all of these matches, hoping to impress the manager in a bid to possibly start the season as the club’s left-back with Shaw not expected to start the season due to injury.

In order to impress the manager, Mitchell just needs keep his head and take his chances if and when it comes. Mourinho is described as a manager lacking confidence in youth players, but since he signed as the United manager, that does not seem to be the case, even despite the myth being proven as just that with players such as Alvaro Morata given the chance under the Portuguese manager whilst he was at Real Madrid, with others given the chance at other clubs he has managed. Perhaps at Chelsea, the talented youth he did not utilise were just not good enough for the first team. Mourinho has shown the faith in Axel Tuanzebe be repeatedly picking him for matches, despite injury ravaging his squad at the time with the youngster doing well.

Mitchell could use the experience of Tuanzebe to earn himself a prolonged chance in the first team at United, but he will need to continue to work hard and impress the manager, doing what is expected of him throughout the chances he is granted by defending well, helping his teammates both in defence and attacking, also running up the left flank and helping his team attack and cause problems for the opposition. The best chance Mitchell could get will be against LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake, which could be seen as confidence boosters for the player, not that I underestimate the abilities of these MLS teams, but Mitchell could fortify his chances against the better teams if he performs, which would only add to his experience.

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