FA Youth Cup: Reds set for Friday semi-final
Manchester United take on Chelsea this Friday evening in the FA Youth Cup semi-final at St George's Park.
Fears the 2019/20 competition would not be completed after lockdown were allayed when it was announced the two last-four ties - Manchester City meet Blackburn Rovers in the other game - will be played at the neutral venue in Staffordshire.
The other match takes place at 17:00 GMT before our kick-off at 19:45 GMT, with the final being held on Monday 2 November at 19:30 GMT.
The games are live on BT Sport but MUTV will also be showing United's semi-final in full, in the UK, from 22:00 GMT on Friday.
U18s match highlights: Derby 0 United 4Video
If the scores are tied after 90 minutes, a penalty shoot-out will be used to decide the outcome, and only players eligible for last season's competition can play.
“Only those boys registered to play with us last year are eligible to play,” clarified lead coach Neil Ryan.
“We've got a lot of new signings but, unfortunately, they can't get a crack at the competition until December, when we start the tournament again.
“They'll be a bit disappointed seeing the game and wishing they were part of it but that's it, it's the same for Chelsea so we regroup and go again. We'll look at it like it's a final really and go into that game focusing on that one game, there's no extra-time as it's just 90 minutes and then penalties.”
In terms of team news, some players who missed last season's competition through injury are now available - including forward Anthony Elanga. Teden Mengi has been with the first-team squad but is eligible, as, technically, is striker Mason Greenwood!
However, Ryan will assemble his group and plan accordingly for the big occasion, knowing he will still have a selection headache even if keeper Ondrej Mastny has provided a boost by reporting fit after being taken off in the Premier League 2 win over Everton with a knock.
“We've had changes to the group,” said the lead coach.
“Some boys have left the club and some of them were injured, Anthony Elanga, for example, and he's in really good form for the Under-23s. Teden Mengi is around the first-team squad and is doing fantastic.
Mason's Youth Cup hat-trickVideo
“Ondrej is going to be okay. He was fine and has trained and will be available for selection.
“It's a big squad of boys,” he continued.
“We need a squad of 18 selected for the game, with seven subs but only three can get on. There will be disappointment for some of them but it's an opportunity to train hard and push themselves into the starting line-up.
“The change over the last eight months or so, physically, over lockdown due to the programmes they all worked on, you can see it in them. Shola Shoretire and Omari Forson were schoolboys last season but Shola has been a regular in the Under-23s and Omari is playing a lot of Under-18s football. It's a big step from schoolboy to young professional football they've taken and it's the same for a number of boys. it'll be interesting to see how well we match up against them.”
United have lifted the trophy a record 10 times, with Chelsea one behind on nine. The west Londoners won it seven times between 2010 and 2018.
Liverpool are the current holders after beating Manchester City in the 2018/19 final. United bowed out to Brighton in the fourth round of that campaign, having earlier knocked Chelsea out 4-3, with Mason Greenwood scoring a hat-trick.
MUTV will show the semi-final in full for UK viewers from 22:00 GMT on Friday.