Grant getting ready for pre-season games
There's only one week to go until Manchester United's first pre-season game ahead of the 2021/22 campaign and goalkeeper Lee Grant is excited to get stuck in.
Many first-team players returned to Carrington this week and although some are still missing due to their involvements at Euro 2020 and the Copa America, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have plenty of personnel to take to Pride Park next Sunday, 18 July, for a friendly against Derby County - the side managed by Reds legend Wayne Rooney.
United's pre-season schedule would normally include a long trip overseas, sometimes spanning a couple of continents, but due to travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this summer's venues are much closer to home.
Lee Grant is excited by the chance to play against English opposition in a different environment.
"I'm looking forward to it," Grant told us, after extending his contract with the club.
"I'm sure a few of the boys are. [I've got] nothing against those long trips and getting to sample the four corners of the world, but there is something quite special about playing some of these games and playing teams perhaps we wouldn't usually play."
Even more important is the return of fans to grounds, with full-capacity stadiums allowed as we move into the end of July. Euro 2020 has reminded everyone of just how crucial fans are to the sport we love.
"It will be nice to get some sense of normality back and fans in the stadiums," Grant said.
"We've obviously had a taste of that over the summer with the Euros, so we're really excited to hopefully improve upon that, get supporters back in the stadium, and for us, get some sort of normal feeling towards the season. Hopefully we can get a great start to go with that."
United will play two pre-season friendlies at Old Trafford, against Brentford on 28 July and Everton on 7 August. Tickets for both home fixtures are available now.
As for our two away games, at QPR and Derby, the best way to watch them is via exclusive live coverage on MUTV. You can take advantage of a special '12 months for the price of six' offer that's on now and watch every game live.
Next weekend's friendly against Derby kicks things off, and Grant will be reunited with the club he had two spells before his move to Manchester.
“It’s a nice one considering I know probably the majority of the staff down there, behind the scenes, they’ve still got some good people there working," the 38-year-old explained.
"And, of course, there’s the connection with Wayne. I am sure it will be an exciting fixture and one that I'll hopefully be in and around. It’d be nice to get some minutes on the pitch.”
Not only will it be great to have a reunion with our record goalscorer Rooney, but next Sunday's game should also provide another good chance to see some of our talented youngsters. As well as Mason Greenwood, who had to withdraw from England's squad before Euro 2020, the likes of James Garner and Brandon Williams have returned to training and will have a chance to show their quality ahead of the new season.
Fans can now buy tickets for the home fixtures against Brentford on 28 July and Everton on 7 August. All of the matches, including Derby County away on 18 July and QPR away on 24 July, will be shown live on MUTV.