Under-23s' friendly to be shown live on MUTV
Manchester United's Under-23s face Huddersfield Town at the John Smith's Stadium on Saturday and the game will be shown live by MUTV.
The official club channel will screen its first full match of the 2020/21 season when Neil Wood's Reds tackle the Championship club's senior side, with kick-off at 15:00 BST.
It will be a stern test for the youngsters ahead of life in Premier League 2 Division 1, following promotion last term, and entry in the EFL Trophy and UEFA Youth League.
Nonetheless, lead coach Neil Wood is convinced it will provide more education for his squad, with a number of them expected to head out on loan before the end of the window to take the next step in their careers.
“I think this is what we want,” he explained to us.
“We've ramped the games back up and it's against Huddersfield, at their stadium, and they've got a new manager [Carlos Corberan].
“We've been slowly prepping towards that game and are looking forward to it. I think the performances are improving and the individuals have been improving throughout the last couple of weeks. So it's just come at the right time for us.
“We've tried to balance the minutes out and there are also some lads here ready to go out on loan as well. So we've got to balance out some minutes for them, while also having some prep for the lads who are going to be in the squad, going forward this season. It's been a fine balancing act so far but we're gradually getting the minutes up to that 90 mark.”
On Tuesday, the side had their first taste of Under-23s opposition in the shape of Stoke City at The Cliff, following friendlies with the first teams of Salford City, Swindon Town and Morecambe.
“We've done very well and given a good account of ourselves,” added Wood.
“We're trying to get the balance and mix of playing first-team opposition and having that hard fight against physical, strong players but, at times, dropping back to Under-23s level. That gives them a chance to play against players roughly around the same age as them.
“It's going to take a little bit of time. First of all, we've had to get used to the speed of it and how physical it is going to be. There are also the demands of working hard, and the work-rate has got to improve, the fitness levels have got to improve as well. But we're slowly getting there and I've seen gradual improvement over the games.”
Luca Ercolani, who captained the team in midweek, told us:
“It's good for me, first of all, because you play against men but it's also good for the youngsters who get some first-team players to play against.
“We're looking forward to the match on Saturday, playing in a stadium - finally! It'll be nice, even with no crowd.”
Midfielder Charlie McCann added: ”It's great to be back playing and everyone is enjoying just being back. After such a long time away, it was a bit frustrating but we're all happy to be back now.
“It'll be another good challenge for us at the weekend, a good test for everyone as it's a young group. You always want to push yourself and challenge yourself against better opponents and better teams. It can challenge us and make us better as a team.”
Top 10 Under-23s goals of 2019/20Video
While results are not important in the pre-season, with some of the games played over three 30-minute spells rather than two halves of 45, the chance to perform on the stage set this weekend should be beneficial for the youngsters as the countdown continues to the new campaign.
Watch the game live and in full on MUTV - with kick-off at 15:00 BST on Saturday.