Academy Weekly: Cox reacts to international debuts

Tuesday 26 March 2024 09:00

Kobbie Mainoo was one of two Academy players to make their senior international debut last week. Here’s everything you need to know about the last seven days at our world-famous youth set-up…


Eighteen-year-old Mainoo became the club’s sixth Academy graduate to earn a senior England debut while still a teenager. He’s the third-youngest Red to hold a Three Lions cap, after Duncan Edwards and Marcus Rashford.

This comes in a season of great promise for Kobbie, who joined the Academy aged nine, after growing up in Stockport and playing for grassroots sides Cheadle & Gatley and Failsworth Dynamos.

There are several key landmark moments in a young player’s career and, when someone like Kobbie reaches one of those, it’s a proud occasion for everyone involved with their development, including many members of staff at the Academy as well as his family, friends and those who helped his development elsewhere.

Kobbie was a 75th-minute substitute in the Wembley friendly against Brazil and came onto the pitch with fellow graduate Marcus Rashford.

Kobbie with his first senior England cap.

On Thursday night, 17-year-old James Scanlon – who has played Under-18s and Under-21s football for United this season – made his senior debut for Gibraltar. James came on as a 74th-minute substitute in a 1-0 UEFA Nations League defeat to Lithuania.

“It’s a proud evening for me but a disappointing result,” James said after, speaking to Gibraltar’s media platforms.

“My goals from here are to just keep progressing with my game and to have a big impact in whichever team I play. I think that’s a good aim for me.”

Scanlon and Mainoo were not, of course, the only graduates in international action. For the England v Brazil fixture alone, Mainoo and Rashford were joined in the matchday squads by Andreas Pereira (Brazil) and Sam Johnstone (England).

Elsewhere, Alejandro Garnacho performed well for Argentina against El Salvador, Scott McTominay was in action versus the Netherlands and Robbie Brady (Ireland), Anthony Elanga (Sweden) and Charlie Savage (Wales) were in their respective squads too. 


“This is a huge landmark in the development of both players that should be celebrated,” reflected Nick Cox, United's director of Academy.

“We always encourage young players to dream big, knowing that the bigger the dream, the harder they will have to work to fulfil it.

“These two young players – and many others in the first-team squad here and elsewhere – have achieved the biggest of dreams, to represent their country. There is no greater achievement than playing for your nation.

“All the staff at the Academy are very proud of what these boys are achieving. As we always tell our kids and their parents, it's our duty to facilitate them maximising their potential, whether that’s playing for England or finding success elsewhere in the game or in life.

Kobbie Mainoo | Playing With Freedom Video

Kobbie Mainoo | Playing With Freedom

PLAYING WITH FREEDOM | Here's another chance to watch Kobbie's session with our Under-9s, from earlier in 2024…

“For Kobbie, this is clearly another landmark moment in a season with many of them. I’d remind him and the United fans who are rightly excited about his talent that it’s still early days in his career.

“Kobbie’s in a great place at the moment, ready for the hard work ahead. There may be some setbacks on the way to reaching his full potential. He’ll know that and we hope we’ve prepared him well to ride those hurdles and continue fulfilling his dreams.”

Endrick pays tribute to United legend


The Brazilian teenager referenced one of the Busby Babes when discussing his first international goal.


Academy scholars not on international duty participated in an interfaith and unity workshop on Monday morning, delivered jointly by a Rabbi and an Imam. The workshop was borne out of recent troubles in the Middle East and gave the players valuable insights of how communities can work together in the most challenging circumstances.

This is one part of our Academy-wide ‘ A United Education’ programme which involves informal education workshops such as this one. Past topics have included positive social media use, resilience, safe driving, mental health, equality, and career planning. In addition to this, scholars also benefit from vocational skills training as part of their formal education courses.

One such recent project saw those studying for a BTEC Marketing course taken off-site to the Preston headquarters of Group55, a private-label manufacturer of pet and personal care products established in 1999.

“We took the boys there and they were given a brief to create your own shampoo and body wash brands,” explains Cameron Royle, Academy Education Officer.

Kobbie posing with the latest edition of Inside United, in which you can read his first major interview and all about the education programme at the Academy.

“They looked at names, branding, logos, packaging and production, toured the facilities to see the manufacturing process and developed the contents of the bottle including fragrance and appearance. It’s like The Apprentice – and they loved it!”

The players later got the chance to present their products and business plans to the Group55 CEO, United’s education officers, two Group55 employees, an expert from UA92 and Series 16 Apprentice contestant Aaron Willis.

You can read more about the experience and the education programme in the latest edition of Inside United, available to purchase here. Also in the latest magazine is insight into Kobbie Mainoo’s first major interview, a discussion on midfield mastery with Casemiro and much more.


Neither the Under-21s or Under-18s are in competitive action this weekend but players out on loan will be competing across the English football pyramid and elsewhere in Europe.