Preview: U23’s out to fight for their futures against Reading?


Adams Park, High Wycombe

Premier League 2

Monday 28th November 2016, KO 19:00 [Live on MUTV]

Manchester United U23’s travel to High Wycombe to face Reading in the Premier League 2. A week ago, Nicky Butt’s side were beaten 2-0 by Sunderland in a frustrating encounter, with United looking like a team lacking any end product. The fact no out-and-out striker is involved in the squad this season says a lot, but the squad is short of a few talented individuals with James Weir, Will Keane (now injured), Donald Love, Paddy McNair and other who left the club in the summer. United also have Joel Pereira, Andreas Pereira, Adnan Januzaj, Dean Henderson and Kieran O’Hara on loan, with James Wilson also sent out to earn some first team football, ending his season early with a serious knee injury. The fact that Marcus Rashford and Timothy Fosu-Mensah were promoted to the first team also sees these two missing from the squad, so the U18’s might be firing goals easily, the U23’s have a serious lack of talent in their squad this season, which requires some attention in January, or the decline will continue further at this level, at least until some of the talented U18 players are promoted.

Callum Gribbin ended his injury nightmare a few weeks ago, returning to U18 action, scoring a hat-trick against Liverpool the weekend before last, sitting out of the 4-0 victory over Derby County this weekend, which could suggest he will strengthen the U23’s against Reading, which would be a great start to find some attacking talent and the ability to score a goal, or two. Of course, injury of fatigue could have kept him out, so for that, we will find out when the team sheet is released prior to kick off later this evening. United need to press on as they are the current Premier League champions at this level and have been for the last two seasons. The fact that none of the fringe first team players have played a minute of action at this level this season is telling, and could well help with the confidence of players not getting a look in at first team level. It would see Jose Mourinho wants to keep both teams separate, which is not helping the U23’s but will be helping the first team in keeping players fit, but not necessarily match fit.

After ten matches being played in the Premier League 2 this season, United have slipped down to eighth place with 13 points, two places, and three points ahead of Reading, who have not had a great start to the season. United are nine points off the top spot, held by Everton, who will be in action against Southampton tonight, so if both teams win, the gap will remain the same and it would seem that this season, the title will be lifted by another club. Reading are winless in their last six matches, drawing once and losing five times. Their last win at this level was against Portsmouth in the Checkatrade Trophy at the start of October. Their last win in the Premier League 2 was against Chelsea on the 19th September, so United, despite having their own problems, should really be looking to capitalise on their opposition this evening, ensuring they leave Buckinghamshire with all three points in the bag.

Manchester United U23 Squad:

Manager: Nicky Butt

Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone, Kieran O’Hara

Defenders: Matthew Olosunde, Axel Tuanzebe, Ro-Shaun Williams, Regan Poole, Charlie Scott, Sadiq El Fitouri, Joe Riley

Midfielders: Scott McTominay, Tosin Kehinde, Josh Harrop, Sean Goss, Devonte Redmond, Matty Willock

Forwards: Demitri Mitchell, Josh Doughty

Reading U23 Squad:

Manager: Martin Kuhl

Goalkeepers: Lewis Ward, Luke Southwood, Joe Tupper, Billy Collings

Defenders: Gabriel Osho, Zak Jules, Sindri Scheving, Jake Sheppard, Tom McIntyre, Omar Richards

Midfielders: Harrison Bennett, Andy Rinomhota, Terence Vancooten, Josh Barrett, Joseph Mendes, Tyler Frost, Jack Stacey, Sandro Weiser, Tarique Fosu

Forwards: Sam Smith, Harry Cardwell, Andrija Novakovich

Manchester United U23 Top Scorers:

2 – Josh Harrop, Scott McTominay, 1 – Own Goal, Demetri Mitchell, Matthew Olosunde, Joe Riley, RoShaun Williams, Matty Willock

Reading U23 Top Scorers:

4 – Andrija Novakovich, 3 – Tom McIntyre,  2 – Joseph Mendes, Andy Rinomhota, 1 – Harry Cardwell, Tarique Fosu, Tyler Frost, Omar Richards, Jake Sheppard, Sam Smith, Jack Stacey, Sandro Weiser

Manchester United U23 Form:- LDWDL

Sunderland 2-0 L, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 D, Arsenal 1-0 W, Liverpool 1-1 D, Everton 2-0 L

Reading U23 Form:- LLLLD

Athletic Club 3-2 L, Liverpool 2-0 L, Yeovil Town 2-0 L, Leicester City 3-2 L, Sunderland 1-1 D

Predicted Starting XI:

Predicted Score:

Reading 0-1 Manchester United

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copyright: JW

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