Laird's first step on his 'major comeback'
Ethan Laird was clearly elated after smashing home Manchester United's first-ever EFL Trophy goal, during the 2-0 win at Rotherham United.
The right-back was part of an impressive team display at the New York Stadium in the competition, which has been rebranded the Leasing.com Trophy, and enjoyed the thrill of competitive football in front of the two passionate sets of supporters.
His strike was a beauty, as he blasted a pass by Brandon Williams past Lewis Price in the home goal, and Largie Ramazani's effort soon afterwards sealed three points. Lincoln City and Doncaster Rovers are also in the Reds' group.
After injury curtailed his progress at times last term, the youngster's motto since the start of the summer has been 'minor setback, major comeback' and he has certainly started well in that regard.
“This season is definitely my comeback season,” he said.
“I'm looking for great things this season. Obviously, it's good to start it off with a goal and it's a brilliant feeling for me and the team as well.
“ We did really well, especially against a senior team with big, physical lads so I'm really proud of the team for getting our first win [in the competition].
“I got the ball back and thought: 'just smack it' and, luckily, it went in. It just raised the energy of the game, when you get that goal and that feeling, it's like 'come on lads'. It was so good! Our fans were very noisy but then that's just Manchester United for you! The support is crazy, travelling out all the way to Rotherham explains that in itself!
“I couldn't get enough, once the first goal went in! I was like 'listen, I just need to get another one'! I enjoyed it, to be fair, a lot. I mean the fans definitely made it feel like it was something [special]. As soon as I scored that goal, and as soon as Largie scored his goal, the uproar was crazy! It was a physical challenge as well because we're all good footballers but there's the other side to football, the physical side to it. It can be hard playing against it, teams playing long balls and getting loads of headers. We dealt with it well and I'm really happy with the team.”
The defender only turned 18 this week but, despite being one of the youngest members of the group, looks physically ready for the upcoming challenges at Under-23s level.
“I'm growing, I would say,
“ he said. ”I like to say the time I had out really helped me physically. Unfortunately, I was out of football but there was other stuff to work on, except for the football, like my body. I want to get to the next step, which is the first team, and be able to cope at that level. Definitely something I've learned [against Rotherham] was the back-post position. Sometimes, they have two or three men crowding you and you need to make it hard for them.”
United's first Premier League 2 outing of the season is on Friday, with West Brom providing the opposition in Kidderminster. The game is live on MUTV with a 19:00 BST kick-off.
“I'm very much looking forward to that,
“ added Laird. ”It should be a good one!”
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