Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has an opportunity to give chances to some of the younger players at his disposal in this week’s Europa League semi-final second leg against Roma.
United’s emphatic 6-2 victory from the first leg at Old Trafford a week ago provides a comfortable cushion that takes the pressure off and could allow for developing talents like Amad Diallo, Shola Shoretire and Anthony Elanga to get important senior minutes under their belts.
Amad has been part of the first-team squad since his January arrival from Atalanta. He played two Under-23 games early on, getting three goals and three assists in the process. He then made his debut off the bench in the Europa League against Real Sociedad and was included on the bench in the Premier League for seven consecutive games between February and early April.
The Ivorian teenager made a second European appearance in the return leg against Real Sociedad, before scoring his first senior goal in United colours against AC Milan. He also featured off the bench against Granada and was an unused substitute last week against Roma.
Amad briefly dropped back down to Under-23 level to play against Chelsea in late April to get a competitive game in his legs – he scored in the 4-2 win. Now, with United already virtually assured of a place in the Europa League final, it could be the perfect opportunity for a first senior start.
Aside from Amad, Solskjaer also has other youngsters he could potentially include.
Shoretire was just three weeks past his 17th birthday when he made a brief appearance against Newcastle in February and soon became United’s youngest ever player in European competition when he was given another opportunity against Real Sociedad a few days later.
The teenager played for the Under-23 team as recently as Monday, scoring twice and getting an assist in a 6-2 thrashing of Derby, but should still be fresh enough for a place on the bench against Roma and potentially an appearance later in the game.
Elanga, United’s reigning Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year, was also on the scoresheet twice for the Under-23s on Monday. The Swede is yet to make his first-team debut but has been on the fringes of the senior squad and was on the bench for both legs of the Granada quarter-final tie.
If there could also be a place on the bench for very highly-rated 18-year-old Hannibal Mejbri, who is yet to be included in a first-team matchday squad, that would be another bonus.
Amad is the only emerging youngster will a real chance of starting, but United fans would welcome seeing any of the next generation in action at any point because the future appears to be bright.