United youngsters get chance to impress
Manchester United kick off their League Cup campaign against Wolves on Wednesday with exciting young strikers Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda desperate to press their case for regular first team football.sports Updated: Sep 23, 2009 19:13 IST
Manchester United kick off their League Cup campaign against Wolves on Wednesday with exciting young strikers Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda desperate to press their case for regular first team football.
Sir Alex Ferguson has traditionally used the tournament as an opportunity to give his most promising young players opportunities to impress and a combination of starlets and fringe players carried United to last year's final.
Darron Gibson was a regular in cup competitions for United last season and is again set to step into Ferguson's team, while Michael Carrick, who has not been a regular this term, could also be given a run out.
Gary Neville is expected to step up his return from a groin problem and Richie De Laet, Jonny Evans and Fabio could all get a chance at the back, but it is Ferguson's attackers that are likely to grab the interest.
Neither Welbeck or Macheda, who both made an impression last season, have featured in the current campaign.
But at least one of the young strikers should start on Wednesday, possibly along with Michael Owen, who is short of match fitness despite coming on to score a dramatic winner in the 4-3 victory over Manchester City on Sunday.
There is also the prospect of Serbian winger Zoran Tosic being given the chance to show what he can do in English football.
Ferguson played veteran Ryan Giggs on the left against City and has been impressed with Nani's contribution but that spot is the most uncertain in the United team.
The Scot rates Tosic highly but the former Partizan Belgrade player, 22, has made just three substitute appearances and could be given the opportunity to shine against McCarthy's side.
While Ferguson would lose no sleep over not winning the competition, it does influence his thinking on players coming through the ranks and his future squad plans.
Two years ago, United suffered a shock 2-0 home defeat to Coventry and the likes of Phil Bardsley, Lee Martin, Gerard Pique, Chris Eagles and Danny Simpson have all found themselves moved on.
But Ferguson has been encouraged by the breakthrough of his most recent crop of youngsters and claims their emergence has meant he was able to limit his transfer activity during the summer.
He said: "We have the nucleus of last season's title winning team which I believe can kick on to become better as they mature and as younger players, such as Nani, Anderson, the da Silvas (Fabio and Raphael) and Jonny Evans, develop.
"Nobody should have been surprised that the transfer window shut without any further activity from Manchester United.
"I said that I was satisfied with my squad and the couple of signings I did make, I saw no reason to change my attitude, even if the vultures had home in following the blip at Burnley. All we need now is some consistency."
Wolves striker Kevin Doyle insists Mick McCarthy's side will travel to Old Trafford with no fear.
Wolves are riding high after beating Fulham 2-1 on Sunday and, having also won at Wigan this season, Doyle sees no reason why they can not pull off a shock.
He said: "We need to keep grounded and keep working as hard as we did against Fulham.
"If we do that, we feel we can go anywhere and get a result. Myself and all the lads feel like that so we won't be worried going away from home.
"We've already won away from home this season, so why not win away from home again?"
Doyle opened his Wolves account with a header against Fulham and McCarthy is expecting him to quickly add to his tally.
"He's a Premier League striker and a Premier League goalscorer," said the manager. "It is great for him to get his first goal and that will help his confidence - not that he lacks self-belief."