THE ACADEMY

03/08/2009 11:04, Report by Ben Hibbs

McGuinness sets U18s target

Paul McGuinness has laid down the gauntlet to this year's crop of Under-18s: promising young players are given the chance at Old Trafford, now's the opportunity to show what you can do.

His players have responded well so far, clinching the eminent Milk Cup youth tournament in Northern ireland on Friday, beating Sheffield United 2-1 in the final.

Last year in the competition, Federico Macheda scored six goals, including one in the final. McGuinness says he hardly needs to spell out what has happened to Kiko in the last year. But the Italian teenager has carved out a potential place among Sir Alex's four strikers.

"The examples are there in front of their own eyes – Macheda and Welbeck have both done well, but not only them, you’ve got Jonny Evans and Darron Gibson and a host of other young players working their way through the Reserves and towards the first-team," Paul told ManUtd.com.

“If you’re good enough, work hard enough and, most importantly, take your chance when it comes, you can be successful. The Milk Cup was a really good challenge against some very good teams, that’s the challenge we want for these boys."

United have taken on 12 first-year Academy scholars this year. So it will be a 'young' U18 side this season. That presents its own challenges, but McGuinness is excited by his current crop. "At this age, it’s natural you have a varied group in terms of their physical development. You balance training to suit that. We’ve concentrated on the football, they get their fitness from playing. Now we're ready for the start of the season."

The Reds kick off the Premier Academy League campaign against Southampton on Saturday 22 August.