Aliou Traore and Brandon Williams in action against Reading Under-23s

Sbragia pleased with Academy players' progress

Tuesday 26 February 2019 19:30

Manchester United Under-23s coach Ricky Sbragia felt there were signs of players making good progress through the Academy ranks in Monday night's Premier League International Cup tie against Reading.

United's run in the competition ended with the 3-1 defeat at Leigh Sports Village, but the credentials of the Royals' hat-trick scorer were at least one mitigating circumstance - just over a month ago, Danny Loader was lining up against our first team for an Emirates FA Cup clash at Old Trafford.
Sbragia makes a point to his players during Monday's game.
By contrast, Sbragia's Under-23 team on this occasion featured a number of younger players who had been promoted from the Under-18s and he believes his junior charges will benefit from facing more experienced professionals.

“We’re disappointed in that we could have been a bit more clinical [in attack] and on the other side we just leaked a few goals, but I thought there were some really good performances tonight,” he told MUTV after the game.
"I thought Largie [Ramazani] was excellent in the first half,” said Sbragia. “He played a full 90 minutes on Saturday [for the Under-18s] so we knew he was going to be tired, but it’s good experience for him."

Like Ramazani, Aliou Traore also began an Under-23s game for the first time, while Di’Shon Bernard, Dylan Levitt and Brandon Williams made just their second starts in the side.

It was also a special night for Under-18 players Connor Stanley and Ethan Galbraith, who both came off the bench to make their first appearances for the older age group.
Largie Ramazani was unlucky not to score for the Under-23s when his shot struck Reading's woodwork.
“I think that’s what the club’s all about,” said Sbragia. 

“We talk about bringing young players in early and we do that, we do that very successfully. It’s good experience for them. It is a step up from the Under-18s to the 23s, there’s no doubt about it.

“It’s more physical as well, but I think they dealt with it well and there will be more opportunities.
Brandon Williams takes on the Royals.
I think that’s important that we keep the door open for them all the time, let them get a little taste of it, see what they say and we’ll have a chat about what they were thinking after the game.

“I think one of the things we do know is that the younger players get tired physically, but we expected that. We’re pleased with the performance.”

Next up for our Under-23 side is a home game against Norwich City in Premier League 2, with Sbragia's boys sitting sixth in the table on 25 points from 17 games. Friday night's fixture at Leigh Sports Village will be shown live on MUTV with kick-off at 19:00 GMT.

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