Manchester United have a grand tradition of promoting youth, with the club having an unrivalled academy record of having at least one youth graduate in the first team squad since 1937, which is well over 4000 games.
This rich tradition means that there is constant talk amongst fans of the club about who is going to be the next player to graduate from the Academy into the first team, more recently these players have been Mason Greenwood, Brandon Williams, and Dean Henderson.
However, there are players some fans overlook when discussing prospects for the future, and one of those is midfielder Ethan Galbraith.
Galbraith was signed after representing Linfield in Northern Ireland and impressing in a trial at United in 2017, as reported by the club. The then 16 year old impressed immediately in the under 18’s team, helping the side win the U18 Premier League North title, with it being his goal against Manchester City that sealed the title for the young team.
After proving his talent with the U23’s in 2019, Galbraith received his first international call up for Northern Ireland, going on to make his debut at the age of 18 against Luxemburg, before making an appearance for United’s senior team.
Representing his country at such a young age shows the talent the midfielder possess, with Manager Michael O’Neill naming Galbraith ‘A lovely player, so easy on the eye’ when speaking to press after the youngsters debut.
Like many United youngsters, Galbraith was handed his senior debut in a Europa League game against Astana in 2019, the midfielder only received two minutes on his debut. In the 2020/21 season, Galbraith did not make any senior appearances but did impress at Under 23 level once more, scoring three goals and getting one assist within 17 appearances from the defensive midfield position. It appeared Galbraith was ready for the next step.
That next step in his career arrived in the form of a loan move to League One side Doncaster Rovers, when the loan move was announced, Doncaster Rovers reported that manager Richie Wellens was delighted, with the manager stating ‘we’ve secured a top footballer’.
It seems as though the manager does rate Galbraith highly as since his arrival in August the youngster has made 16 appearances in all competitions, this is particularly rare as he plays in defensive midfield, a notoriously hard position to play for inexperienced players, especially in a league as tough as league one where practically every game is a battle.
Galbraith has made himself popular amongst Doncaster fans, with the defensive midfielder beginning to chip in with goals and assists, currently with one goal and two assists to his name in all competitions for Doncaster.
He’s also been named Man of the Match multiple times during his time at the club, proving that his ability is starting to shine through in a league in which many young Academy players become overwhelmed, this shows that Galbraith also has great resilience.
It appears Galbraith’s loan to Doncaster has allowed the midfielder to reach a new level in both ability and game management, the experience he will receive from a season playing regular football in League One is practically irreplaceable and may stand him in good stead to make his way into the first team squad next season.
Still only 20 years old, Galbraith has time, especially after he signed a new contract at Manchester United in 2020 that will keep him at the club until June 2023, as reported by the club.
One thing is for certain, every Manchester United fan should have Ethan Galbraith on their radar as one to watch from the academy, he is a player who not only seems incredibly gifted, but who seems built for competitive games.
Written by Jennifer McCord