West Ham U18 v United U18
Sat 17 August, 11am kick-off
Little Heath Sports Ground

Highlights on MUTV - Sunday 5pm BST

16/08/2013 11:32, Report by A Marshall & M Shaw

Under-18s ready for opener

Although United's first team are in action on Saturday, the first Reds team to start the new league campaign will actually be Paul McGuinness' Academy side.

The youngsters kick off the Barclays Under-18 Premier League with a journey to Romford to take on West Ham in an 11am kick-off with the new-look team set a challenging fixture schedule after more tweaks to the Academy format. 

Highlights of the clash with the Hammers at the Little Heath Sports Ground will be shown exclusively on MUTV from Sunday at 5pm BST - it's the first of 31 league games with semi-final spots in the competition up for grabs for the top four sides.

"We are looking forward to it," McGuinness informed MUTV. "Every year, we get a new group and, at the start of the year, you're assessing them to see how they are. Hopefully, by the end of the year, they've developed and you can plan ahead. That's the enjoyable part of our job as at least you can see the development while you've got them."

With the Milk Cup already in the trophy cabinet, the new season has started well and several of the young faces on show in Northern Ireland will push to be involved at the older age level.

"It's going to be a busy year and we'll have to juggle around," explained McGuinness. "Some of the Under-16s have done well and some will play for the Under-18s with the number of games we've got.

"We will, at times, have a very young team in the Under-18s. We've recruited less players than normal for one reason or another which means the Under-16s will definitely get chances to work and fill in, to do their best to develop in the games we've got."

More: Under-18 fixtures 2013/2014 | Reds win Milk Cup


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