This article is part of Football FanCast’s In The Pipeline series, which takes a look at some of the most promising young talent either linked with clubs or emerging from their academies…
Mason Greenwood may be the undoubted star in the making at the moment, but Manchester United have a clutch of promising youngsters waiting patiently in the wings for their break-out moments. The Old Trafford faithful have already seen a bit of Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes this season, but one man who could eclipse them all is Brandon Williams.
Not the most heralded academy prodigy out of the group the Red Devils currently possess, but the player with arguably the biggest chance of stamping his mark on the first-team this season. The 19-year-old completed his first full 90 minutes of the campaign in the Europa League against AZ Alkmaar earlier this month, and according to some United fans, was one of the few silver linings of a drab 0-0 draw.
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As a right-footed left-back, Williams is in the mould of United stalwart Denis Irwin, and speaking after the game against the Dutch side, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer paid him a remarkable compliment.
“Top class, absolutely top notch. You won’t see a better full debut from a full-back anywhere. The boy is just going to improve and improve. He’s got the right mentality. I’m very pleased for him.”
Those comments will be music to the teenager’s ears, particularly with the Manchester side’s current struggles in his favoured position. First-choice left-back Luke Shaw has been out of action since mid-August with a hamstring injury, and whilst recent reports suggests he is in line to make a return sooner rather than later, Solskjaer may do well to hold off from throwing him back into the side.
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The England international has had a career beset by injuries, and has missed 103 games for United since signing from Southampton. There is absolutely no way for the Red Devils to wholeheartedly place their trust in the £27m-rated man, and that no doubt opens the door for Williams to seize his opportunity.
An injury-prone Shaw, and a make-shift defender in a 34-year-old Ashley Young, are his only real competitors at left-back. If Williams continues to impress in training, circumstances will surely dictate that he gets a run of games to show what he can do. And, judging by what Solskjaer thought of his full debut, there is no reason why he can’t be the academy prospect to make the most immediate mark on the team.