United U18s v Arsenal, 2 April 2007:
Back Row (L to R): Richard Eckersley, James Chester, Danny Welbeck, Ben Amos, Craig Cathcart, Danny Drinkwater, Chris Fagan. Front Row (L-R): Corry Evans, Sam Hewson, Febian Brandy, Daniel Galbraith.

24/12/2013 09:50, Report by Adam Marshall
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Reds' Academy is working

Manchester United are rightly proud of the number of players who have progressed through the Academy to enjoy successful careers in the game.

Recent research by the CIES Football Observatory found the Reds have produced more footballers in the top five European leagues than any other English club, with Aston Villa in second place, while the figures regarding those competing in the lower divisions are also impressive.

"The Premier League came up with the statistic that we have got the most homegrown players competing in league football and that is a credit to our Academy," explained Reserves coach Warren Joyce.

"It is especially satisfying that many of these are local lads who have been with us since an early age."

United youth products are scattered across all the divisions and, using the weekend before Christmas as a random sample, the club's influence has never been more evident. From the Reds' opponents West Ham, who included Ravel Morrison as their creative force in midfield at Old Trafford, to the penultimate club in the league, Bury, who had Daniel Nardiello in attack at Plymouth, the roll call is an extensive one.

Kieran Richardson scored for Fulham against Manchester City while Stoke City's central defensive pairing in the home win over Aston Villa was Ryan Shawcross and Marc Wilson. Sunderland went one better with three members of their back four former youth-teamers in John O'Shea, Wes Brown and Phil Bardsley.

United's Boxing Day opponents Hull City have five ex-Reds in their ranks - Robbie Brady, James Chester, Paul McShane, Joe Dudgeon and Cameron Stewart (who is on loan at Brentford) plus Alex Bruce was with the club until he was 16.

However, delve into the Football League and it is often even easier to find many players making their way in the game after being schooled at the Aon Training Complex. Craig Cathcart scored for Blackpool past Tom Heaton's Burnley while

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