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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has handed 16 teenagers debuts across his time in charge at Manchester United.
Notably, that stands up well against each of his predecessor’s records of offering United’s talented youth opportunities with the first team and that list of names includes Mason Greenwood, Brandon Williams, Shola Shoretire, Anthony Elanga and Hannibal Mejbri.
Shoretire, Elanga and Hannibal were the latest academy graduates to be handed their first team debuts last season and their performances have already stirred excitement among United fans on social media who are keen to follow their progress.
One name that Solskjaer was responsible for handing a first team debut to that has been forgotten is D’Mani Mellor, though, but the 20-year-old is still clearly in the United boss’ thoughts – Mellor was pictured at United’s first team training under Solskjaer last week.
After making a full return from a serious ACL knee injury that he sustained in November – Mellor admitted at the time he was facing ‘a long recovery’ ahead – the youngster was spotted at Carrington, sharing jokes with Jesse Lingad and other first team stars.
While it’s clear that Mellor is a popular character at United, it was his ability on the pitch that sealed his reputation as one of the academy’s brightest prospects and that earned him a contract extension at United despite him just coming back from an injury.
Although United have multiple forward players in a similar ilk to Mellor, players that are creative, technically exceptional and positionally versatile, there’s reason to believe he could play for the first team for the first time since November 2019 this term.
After Mellor made his debut in United’s 2-1 defeat away at Astana in the Europa League, Solskjaer claimed the Reds’ youngsters were ‘knocking on the door’ of the first team and, after his return from injury, it’s the youngster’s job to ring the bell to gain attention.
Would you like Mellor to be given a chance at first team level? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Solskjaer has shown he’s not afraid to give youth a chance and, when considering Anthony Martial’s performance against Southampton for example, it’s not impossible to think Mellor could be promoted to the first team.
That would save United millions if they eventually decide to replace the Frenchman.
Mellor faces competition from his fellow academy graduates if such an opening in the first team does appear, but his record in the academy was one of the best – he scored four goals and creating six assists from 14 appearances for United’s U23s before injury.
Rolling the dice with Mellor could save United millions and history suggests Solskjaer might be willing to gamble.
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