27/07/2009 09:13, Report by Ben Hibbs

Reds begin Milk Cup defence

United's youngsters kick off the defence of their 2008 Milk Cup crown on Monday night against County Antrim at the Showgrounds in Ballymena.

Paul McGuinness took his squad over to Northern Ireland on Sunday to take part in the prestigious youth tournament as part of the Under-18s' pre-season preparations.

United won the tournament for the third time last summer, ending a five-year wait since 2003's victory. Federico Macheda, Nicky Ajose and Oliver Norwood were all on the scoresheet as the Reds beat American side South Coast Bayern 3-0 in the final.

It's a measure of the tournament's standing that Macheda, who scored six goals in Northern Ireland, went on to make a crucial impact on last season's title race, while promising Reserves and Academy performances from Ajose and Norwood earned them professional contracts this summer.

McGuinness, who has taken in 12 new 16-year-old Academy recruits this year, may have a younger squad to work with as he attempts to retain the trophy.

Stay tuned to and MUTV for regular updates from the tournament.


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