Under-23s emulating their idols on Friday
Manchester United's youngsters are eagerly anticipating following in the footsteps of their idols when they run out at Old Trafford on Friday night.
Neil Wood's Reds face West Ham United and are aiming to extend the 100 per cent start to the campaign. The Premier League 2 match has free entrance for all supporters and is also live on MUTV, with kick-off at 19:00 BST.
By following in the footsteps of some of the famous icons of the past, it is a chance for the Academy talents to relish performing at the Theatre of the Dreams in front of what will hopefully be a sizeable crowd.
"To play in a big stadium is always a great feeling," said winger Largie Ramazani, who has started the season in fine form. "You think: 'Yeah, I'm here. First-team players played here and now I'm here playing'.
"I think it's going to be unbelievable. I've never played at Old Trafford so, to play there, is a dream come true. It's like you've watched Cristiano Ronaldo and Eric Cantona and think they've been there. Now I'm playing on that pitch as well.
"It definitely gives you confidence. The fans will come down to give us that extra boost and you feel more confident and will hopefully have a good game. It's just going to be amazing!"
Dylan Levitt's impressive performances have helped him gain another call-up to the Wales senior squad, with coach Ryan Giggs promoting the midfielder to replace the injured Aaron Ramsey for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers.
"As kid, you want to be at Old Trafford one day," said Levitt. "Hopefully, I'll play there against West Ham and we'll get three points as well.
"Whether you're home or away, Old Trafford is always going to be the big one. It's an honour to play there and I think the crowd will help us quite a lot as well. It's a big bonus for us. There might be a few nervous players but hopefully we can win again."
Matej Kovar has yet to concede a goal and has looked the part between the posts.
"So far, so good," he said. "We've done a brilliant job in the first three matches and hopefully we are going to continue with this work and it will be a good season for us.
"To be fair, I don't mind about clean sheets. For me, it's important to get the three points rather than keep a clean sheet. That's a bonus. I'm very happy to be winning games.
"Against West Ham at Old Trafford, we'll try to do our best as a team and also in terms of personal performances."
United's new Head of Academy Nick Cox feels the pressure of performing on such a big stage, and the scrutiny that comes with it, is perfect to aid the youngsters' development.
After a superb 4-0 win at Newcastle United's St James' Park in our last Premier League 2 outing, this week's match represents another challenge that mirrors senior football.
"The Academy journey prepares our players for the ultimate test: being able to perform under pressure in a winning first-team environment," explained Cox.
"We provide various experiences along the way that prepare them for that; playing in front of crowds and playing in stadiums. It is always interesting to see how individuals cope, especially when faced with new experiences under the lights at Old Trafford.
"Academy staff are always looking much deeper than just the result on the night. Having the opportunity to play at Old Trafford will be an experience to remember for the rest of their lives."
United versus West Ham in Premier League 2 kicks off at 19:00 BST on Friday night. There is free entry for all spectators at Old Trafford and the match is being shown live on MUTV.
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