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Manchester United academy chief Nick Cox has opened up on the decision to bring former central-defender Paul McShane back to the club in a player-coach role, insisting that it is an “amazing appointment”.
McShane, who rose through the youth ranks at Old Trafford being sealing a permanent move to West Bromwich Albion in 2006, returned to United last month in a player-coach role for the Under-23s.
Although he has predominantly returned to the club in a coaching capacity, McShane — who spent the last two seasons playing for League Two club Rochdale — has made two appearances for the Under-23s since sealing his return, including a 75-minute run-out against a senior Hull City side on Saturday at the MKM Stadium.
Now, as McShane begins to settle into life back at Old Trafford, academy boss Cox has detailed just how big an impact the former Hull and Reading defender will have on the youngsters at the club.
“Paul will join us in the role of player-coach and he obviously brings a wealth of experience,” Cox told United’s club website. “He understands the club, having been a graduate of our academy.
“He was playing league football last season and he’s an A-licence coach so that’s a unique blend of skills that he brings.
“He will join us predominantly in a coaching capacity so he is going to be a resource that will help improve the players around him and he will do that in a number of ways.
“He will train with the group to make sure the intensity of the sessions is high because he is used to playing in intense environments in senior football.
“He will give us a new different perspective from a coaching point of view from within the session and see different things, which is really important, and he can coach from within the session as well.
“He will give our exciting, young attacking players a daily challenge so they will be able to go up against him knowing he’s played in the European Championship and played in some huge games, FA Cup finals.
“He’s a daily presence for them to try to test themselves against and he can be the big brother to the other defenders and teach them, a little bit like the old-school world of Reserves football.
“Young players were [then] playing with and against senior players and you would learn from your peers and learn on the job, rather than just all the information always coming from the coach.”
Cox also confirmed that McShane will feature in some Under-23s matches and that in-game experience will help the youngsters develop their own standards.
“He may, indeed, at the right time, play in some fixtures as well. He is not predominantly joining us as a player but he may play as a learning tool for other players,” Cox added.
“So you can imagine Paul playing in the centre of defence and he’s got some young players around him that he can coach, teach, help and lead by example throughout the fixtures. At times, that will happen.
“We’re excited. We think it’s an amazing appointment and we can’t wait to have him as part of the team. It’s what we think is a little bit innovative and that’s what our club is about, right?
“Trying to do things differently and trying to do things other clubs haven’t done. Yes, we’re excited.”
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