Erik ten Hag hails Kobbie Mainoo with youngster set for first-team role next season

Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag hails youngster Kobbie Mainoo, who is set to be involved for the first team in the new season.

Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag has lavished praise on youngster Kobbie Mainoo, with the midfielder set to be heavily involved for the first team during the 2023-24 campaign.

The 18-year-old made his first-team debut for the Red Devils in January, and he ended last season having featured on three occasions for the 20-time English champions.

Mainoo has started all three of Man United’s pre-season games this summer, meanwhile, including playing the opening half of Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Arsenal in New Jersey.

After the clash with the Gunners, Ten Hag discussed the crop of youngsters at Old Trafford and reserved special praise for teenage midfielder Mainoo.

“It’s fantastic. Manchester United is famous for always bringing young players up and it can be done. But we have to see,” Ten Hag told reporters on Saturday.

Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag on July 19, 2023© Reuters

“We have confidence, he [Kobbie Mainoo] is playing with confidence, and I really like his performance. But this year, he showed it in spring, then he got injured. We are really happy. There are more youngsters with us now and they’re all doing very good. But I don’t want to rise expectations too high.

“We have to see. The Premier League is tough but, definitely, you can see we have some really good young players who can play a role in the squad. But the bar is high.”

Speaking on Friday during his pre-match press conference, meanwhile, Ten Hag said that Mainoo will be given plenty of opportunities to make his mark before the start of the new season.

“We have to see in pre-season,” said the Dutchman when asked how he could fit into the team. “He gets his chance because he deserves it. Because he showed it in the Under-21s and in our training.

“He showed a high level and now he has to show it in games. So pre-season is perfect to test him.

Manchester United's Kobbie Mainoo pictured on January 28, 2023© Reuters

“He is an option to get into the game squad and to get playtime. We will see but I am confident he can do it and we have to wait we have test if it is going to happen.”

Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho scored the goals against Arsenal, with Man United making it three wins from their three friendly matches this summer.

“I think it’s very good. The way we played, I was really pleased, how active we were in and out of possession,” added the manager.

“That is the way we want to play and that is the only period of the year you can really work in training and translate it to games without it having consequences. But still, we want to win, and I think the lads showed we played a good game.”

A Man United academy side will now take on Wrexham on Tuesday evening, while the first team will next be in action against Real Madrid on Wednesday.

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