Aidan Barlow is delighted with the progress he has been making at Manchester United and he jokes he must be due a testimonial at the club after being around it since the age of five!
The attacking midfielder scored his third goal of the successful UEFA Youth League campaign with the winner in Valencia and has also become a regular member of Ricky Sbragia’s Under-23s squad. He is learning all the time and has enjoyed some time working with the first team at the Aon Training Complex.As a local lad from Salford, the Reds fan is determined to continue climbing the ladder and showing his qualities in midfield and attack, particularly in the more physically demanding Premier League 2.
Under-19s: Valencia 1 United 2Video
”Coming up against experienced players is what you want, don't you?” he told MUTV.
“Because it’s where you want to get to. With the first team, playing against these players yourself. You have to step up to it and raise your game because you know you’re facing better players, more experienced players, so it’s good for me.”
A 1-0 win at Reading last weekend, courtesy of Angel Gomes's second-half penalty, took the Reds to the top of the Premier League 2 table with Barlow coming on for the goalscorer and playing his part in an excellent victory. The final fixture of the year for the Under-23s is on Thursday, with an away game at Derby County in the Premier League International Cup (kick-off 19:00 GMT), live on MUTV.
Meanwhile, Barlow was thrust into the spotlight when being pictured training with the first-team squad ahead of the derby game with Manchester City last month. However, linking up with the senior group was not necessarily a new experience for the youngster.”It was a strange one [to have the attention at the time] but every opportunity I get to train with them, I just do my best and hope more chances come,” he said.
“You’ve got to take every opportunity as it comes and I’ve trained a few times with them now. You’ve got to go up there with confidence and feel no pressure. You take part in the session and show how you can do it.It’s a lot faster and how you expected it to be, really. Faster, technically a lot better, and everything is a step ahead so you’ve got to raise your game and step up to it. You definitely can’t go up there and not be confident or be nervous, otherwise you’d struggle. You’ve got to just go up there, be confident and go and impact it.”
Barlow has been with the Reds since an early age and is thrilled to be at the Aon Training Complex with his boyhood favourites.
”I joined aged five,” he laughed.
“I’ll get a testimonial soon as it’s been a while! I’ve loved every minute of it and hope to stay here much longer. I was at The Cliff first, there are a few in the changing room who were there with me, like Angel [Gomes] and it’s good. Others have gone off in different directions, taking different paths, but I keep in touch with everyone.
“I love Manchester United. I love it. It’s all I’ve known as a kid and all I know now. It’s all through me and my family. The coaches teach you different aspects of the game. When you’re young, you learn skills first, it’s more technical but then it becomes more tactical as you get older. The gym work starts when you’re first-year scholars and it’s very physical, especially in the league we’re in now with the Under-23s.
”I’ll just take it all as it comes. I’m striving towards more things and I have got things in mind that I want to achieve. I’ll see what happens. I’m definitely making progress and enjoying the challenge. I’m trying to get better and improve as I have got things I want to achieve. I’m going to try to make that happen.”Thursday night's game away to Derby County is our first in a Premier League International Cup group also containing PSV Eindhoven and Paris Saint-Germain. Live coverage on MUTV begins at 18:30 GMT, 30 minutes before kick-off.
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