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Kobbie Mainoo makes Manchester United debut in the League Cup

[Photo by Ash Donelon]

Kobbie Mainoo made his senior debut for Manchester United on Tuesday night in their Carabao Cup quarter-final clash with Charlton Athletic. The 17-year-old started the game in the position normally taken up by Bruno Fernandes and played 60 minutes before being replaced by Casemiro.

The Stockport-born midfielder becomes the second academy prospect to make his senior debut under Erik Ten Hag after striker Charlie McNeil who appeared against Real Sociedad in September. Mainoo has spent a lot of time with the United first team behind the scenes this season and has clearly made an impact on the manager. For those previously unfamiliar with Kobbie Mainoo here’s a rundown.

Manchester United career so far

Mainoo joined the Manchester United academy aged nine and has risen through the ranks ever since. The midfielder’s first season as a scholar came in the 2020/21 season aged 15 where he featured 11 times in all competitions for the United U18s.

Last season he established himself as a key starter in the U18s as well as making grounds into the U23s. He played a key role as United won the FA Youth Cup. Mainoo stood out in a talented squad which also included Alejandro Garnacho, who has played his way into the United first team this season. At the end of the season, he was rewarded for his great form as he signed his first professional contract at United in May 2022.

This campaign the 17-year-old has spent the bulk of his time with the U21s regularly featuring in Premier League 2 where he has bagged two goals so far. The midfielder has also featured in the Papa John’s Trophy this season. He has represented England at both U17 and U18 level and has trained regularly trained with the senior squad this season.

Over the World Cup break, Mainoo travelled with the United first team squad for their training camp in Spain. Whilst out there he scored in a friendly against Cadiz, his performance in that game impressed many United fans. He also made an impression on Erik Ten Hag with his performance in a recent behind-closed-doors friendly with Everton.

[Photo by Ash Donelon]

What the future holds?

Ten Hag was full of praise for Mainoo ahead of the quarter-final. Speaking about the midfielder to United’s official website, the Dutchman said: “For all of us it is a big game and for him, it is a great opportunity.

“He did well at the winter camp in Spain, he did very well against Everton in the friendly, so he deserved to play. So I am happy to give him the opportunity, but it is what is deserved.”

With the manager already a fan, the youngster certainly did nothing to tarnish his good reputation with his performance against Charlton. He offered an assured display in the centre of the park, impressing many fans with how comfortable he looked at senior level.

If Mainoo keeps improving at his current rate it would be no surprise to see more first team cameos from him this season. With the current fixture congestion facing United opportunities for the midfielder may come sooner rather than later. United’s FA Cup fourth round tie with Reading seems the most likely time we may see Kobbie Mainoo get some more senior minutes.

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