Manchester United have a new striker at U23 level…

Manchester United have a new striker. Not Romelu Lukaku. I am talking about at U23 level, a team which did not have a recognised striker last season. His name is Zak Dearnley. The 18-year-old is ready to prove himself within the clubs U23 squad, otherwise known as the reserves proving that his attacking nature will show him as the out-and-out striker the club have been looking for. United obviously had the chance to buy a striker last summer, having players on trial who did well, but nothing was decided and the U23 persevered last season filling in the void with different players. The coming season, Dearnley will rise through the ranks hoping to fill the void and impress new manager Ricky Sbragia.

Dearnley will be joined by teammate Josh Bohui, another striker who is already gaining experience with Nicky Butt adding him to the U23 squad towards the end of last season. Forwards may have been something United were lacking in this particular age group, but both Dearnley and Bohui will be out to prove themselves ensuring the U23 play that more attacking and more exciting football in the Premier League 2, hopefully in a bid to wrestle the title from Everton, the champions at this level last season. No, it was not Manchester City, the club with *apparently* the best Academy, who do not actually create first team players, not for City anyway. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Dearnley said:

“I’d say I’m a striker now. Yeah, striker, definitely. I am all about goals now. Kieran McKenna has come in and really helped a lot with my position. He doesn’t really see me as a winger; now I’m more of a striker. 

“[Under-18s assistant-coach] Colin Little tells me about how Marcus [Rashford] changed and he has helped me too as he was a striker with Crewe Alexandra and Altrincham and other clubs. He is always helping me and they have made me into more of a striker nowadays, with a different mindset.

“You’ve got to be hungry for goals. Before, I was just happy getting the ball, taking people on and passing it and whatever. Now Kieran has got me in the mindset of goals, goals, goals. So I am always in the box now. I used to be more of a winger than striker.”

There are many reasons to be optimistic ahead of the new Premier League 2 season with both Dearnley and Bohui in the squad. Dearnley scored six goals for the U18’s last season, which he will be hoping to advance on at the higher level, which will be more competitive and hopefully show the player at his full potential. There are some exciting players in the U18 ranks, some of which may move up the ranks too with ten new players being added to the Academy level this summer. Angel Gomes could be a player given the chance at a higher level on occasion, which will be good for him after his first team debut at the end of last season. Concluding, Dearnley spoke about Joshua Bohui, saying:

“Josh [Bohui] has done well. We’ve been struggling for another striker so maybe if I could have stayed clear of injury, I could have pushed on a bit more, but that’s how it is.

“Obviously, playing against older players you need to change your game up. They are sometimes going to be as fast as you and as strong as you so you’ve got to change your game but keep the same mindset. That doesn’t change. Once you’ve got that, that’s the groundwork sorted. If you keep that mindset throughout your career, you will do well.”

Manchester United will need to kick on in the U23 ranks next season, a big youth boost will be coming through the ranks next season and beyond which will show the club on a new level with Nicky Butt and his colleagues working for the last year or so to change the fortunes of United’s Academy, who were in need of the assistance. United have the youth blooding in their history and that is something that will continue. Bohui and Dearnley will just be a small part of that and hopefully a successful part.

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