Manchester United U21’s play their penultimate fixture of the season at Old Trafford on Thursday evening against Norwich City. United have won their last two fixtures against Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa, and providing they best Norwich City and then Reading next week, they should qualify for the semi-finals of the Barclays U21 Premier League in a bid to retain the trophy they won last season in its inaugural year. A victory on Thursday evening would see United jump above both Fulham and Southampton, who have played all their fixtures this season.
Warren Joyce is pleased with his sides progress in the latter half of the season, especially as he has lost many of the more experienced player, who are currently out on loan across the country, some in Europe. The match against Spurs on Monday at White Hart Lane was exhausting for the players, but with two full days rest ahead of the match. Norwich City are currently in eleventh place in the Barclays U21 Premier League on 27 points and have no chance of making the semi-finals of the competition this season, but that doesn’t mean they will be a pushover. Speaking to MUTV, Warren Joyce said:
“At this stage of the season now, a lot of clubs are fighting to finish in the top half. If you look at the fixtures, a lot of people are bringing lads back from loans just to try to fight do that.
“We chose not to do that so we’ve got a very young side and it was a good education against Spurs on how to win games because there were times when we were under the cosh but the lads, particularly in the second half, did a really good job.
“I’ve said until I’m blue in the face that it’s great for young players to play against senior players and, to be fair, I thought Spurs’ senior players did it properly because they were at it. They passed and ran and competed so it was difficult for us.
“We really wanted a settled group to work, develop and teach them things and we now have a youngish squad who should be playing around about this level. I’m sorry to see the season coming to an end because I think there has been a big improvement in the boys.
“The main objective was to keep in the top half and play in the First Division next year but we’ve done better than expected really and have just got to keep going now.”
Manchester United U21 Form: – WWLDDW
Last six matches: Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 W, Aston Villa 3-0 W, Newcastle United 1-0 L, Chelsea 0-0 D, Bolton Wanderers 1-1 D, Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 W
Norwich City U21 Form: – WLDWLW
Last six matches: Bolton Wanderers 5-1 W, Liverpool 4-1 L, Southampton 1-1 D, Sunderland 3-0 W, Gorleston 2-0 L, Everton 2-1 W
Manchester United U21 Top Scorers:
7 – James Wilson, 6 – Jesse Lingard, 4 – Larnell Cole, Will Keane, 2 – Adnan Januzaj, Michael Keane, Joe Rothwell, Wilfried Zaha, 1 – Own Goal, Angelo Henriquez, Saidy Janko, Tom Lawrence, Andreas Pereira, Davide Petrucci, Nick Powell, Tom Thorpe
Norwich City U21 Top Scorers:
10 – Josh Murphy, 8 – Jamar Loza, 5 – Carlton Morris, 3 – Jacob Murphy, 2 – Cameron McGeehan, 1 – Luciano Becchio, Elliott Bennett, Own Goal, Ray Grant, Shaquille McDonald, Cameron Norman, Rod Young
Predicted Starting XI:
2. Janko, 4. McNair, 5. Ekangamene, 3. James;
6. Pearson, 8. Rowley;
11. Harrop, 7. Rothwell, 10. A. Pereira;
Manchester United 2-0 Norwich City
The match kicks off at 19:00 GMT on Thursday 17th April 2014, and will be shown live on MUTV from 18:30 GMT.
By Paul Bienkowski
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