Who are United's best uncapped players?

Saturday 13 November 2021 14:00

Sandy Turnbull was probably the highest-profile Manchester United player to sadly lose his life during the first world war.

The Scottish striker went missing in action in Arras, in France, and never returned from the conflict.

During his career, he won two Division One titles with the Reds and was the scorer when we won our first FA Cup, in 1909 against Bristol City. In the following year, another former United great, Billy Meredith, offered a tribute to his colleague.

"Have you noticed the game Sandy Turnbull is playing just now?" the Welshman wrote. "Lighter and fitter than last season, he is at the top of his form. He is getting goals every time and, if he keeps it up, he ought to, at last, get what he ought to have had years ago - his Scottish cap.

"He is the best player who never got a cap. Of that, there is no doubt." 

The comment got us thinking about the best Reds never to have been capped by their country and there were plenty of names thrown up for debate. Steve Bruce is usually forwarded as one of the top players of his generation to not play for England, even if he captained the nation's B team.

Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton explored the possibility of recruiting him but the centre-back was ineligible and he never did get a taste of full international action, despite being a rock at the back for his club, a dependable captain and part of a great partnership with Gary Pallister when United enjoyed so much success at the start of the Premier League era.

Jimmy Greenhoff is another who often gets mentioned during such debates. Although his brother Brian represented England, the striker only wore the Three Lions at Under-23s level. The centre-forward scored in the 1977 FA Cup final win over Liverpool and also headed a famous goal against the Merseysiders in the 1979 semi-final replay to take the Reds to Wembley.

The Yorkshireman amassed almost 600 appearances in league football, including a lengthy spell with Stoke City, after starting out with Leeds United.

Remi Moses is another who was unlucky not to earn an England cap, even though he was called into several squads. The tigerish midfielder made eight Under-21s outings for his country after joining from West Brom and being with the Reds throughout much of the 1980s, only to be unfortunately affected by injuries during his career. 

Busby Babe Albert Scanlon recovered from injuries sustained in the Munich Air Disaster.

Maurice Setters was in England's provisional squad for the 1958 World Cup finals but never played a senior game for his country, while Busby Babes such as Mark Jones and Eddie Colman tragically lost their lives in Munich before getting an international call-up.

Some of the best keepers for the club who fit into the uncapped category include Alf Steward, Harry Moger, Jack Crompton, Raimond van der Gouw and Les Sealey.

There are many names from yesteryear, not limited to defender Charlie Moore, half-back Lal Hilditch, Scotland's Fred Erentz and Jimmy Turnbull, plus striker Enoch West.

John Aston Jnr was Man of the Match in the 1968 European Cup final triumph over Benfica but never got to run out at Wembley for England, even though his father wore the shirt at the 1950 World Cup finals. Charlie Mitten, born in Burma, only made one appearance for England, in a charity game against Scotland in 1946 that did not count as an official fixture.

Albert Scanlon, a Munich survivor, and Alex Dawson, who was born in Scotland and played for England Schoolboys, are also definitely worthy of a shout considering their record for the Reds.

Mark Robins scored his crucial goal in the FA Cup at Nottingham Forest in 1990.

More recent uncapped names include Scottish defender Graeme Hogg, striker Andy Ritchie and 1990 FA Cup final goalscorer Lee Martin. What about David May, who was part of the Treble-winning squad, or striker Mark Robins, who bagged some very important goals in the early part of Sir Alex Ferguson's reign?

Danny Simpson won the Premier League title with Leicester City after coming through the ranks at United but never played for England. Federico Macheda scored one of the most famous goals at Old Trafford this century when curling the dramatic winner against Aston Villa in 2009, yet did not go on to play for Italy's senior side.

And surely Aaron Wan-Bissaka must be part of this debate. The right-back has now clocked up 114 appearances since signing from Crystal Palace in 2019 but has only played internationally for DR Congo Under-20s and England's Under-20s and Under-21s sides.