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The Academy: A Trip to Wolves – Preview

Saturday’s visit to Wolves is the first of 3 games in 11 days for United’s boys before they take a well earned two-week break. Having suffered a painful defeat to local rivals City last week, the boys will come into this game fresh from the experience with a new found determination to improve, it’s what a defeat like that does. The result was a useful barometer of where this team is. City has an exciting team and took full advantage of the weaknesses United have through the spine of the team but it wasn’t all about them, United had their chances too.

The heavy-ish 1-3 scoreline suggests otherwise, but United saw plenty of the ball and; remove a few lapses in concentration, a penalty awarded for seemingly nothing and the loss of United’s strongest central defender just a minute after getting back into the game, the story could’ve been an altogether different one. Yes; City were the better team on the day, but I’m not sure how many people would’ve expected it to be any different and I’m sure United are not as far behind as some will have you believe.

The frailties of this young United team are there for all to see and only perhaps a staunch Red like Paddy Crerand would suggest these boys look capable of success in either the League or the Youth Cup. Despite that, there’s moments in games that provide me with enough belief that come January, with 16 games under their belt and five months of training together, this team will iron out the frailties and begin to put in performances worthy of fans like you and me getting excited at their prospects.

Obviously that remains to be seen, but Saturday’s trip to Wolves should be an opportunity to give the lads a timely boost against a side that’s so far struggled for goals at home having played three but netting just four times. They’ve managed to win 2 out of the 3 games with that tally however and come into this game on the back of defeat after giving Bolton Wanderers their first home win of the season last week. (2-1)

Wolves players to look out for are Zeli Ishmail (2 goals ) and Jake Kempton (4 goals), the former being a much talked about (within Molyneux) ‘prospect for the future’ who suffered a long term injury but has returned and found his form.

This week’s been a mad week for me and it’s left me no time to find out who’s fit and who isn’t so my predicted line-up is purely a guess-stimate. I doubt the injury McCullough sustained last week will keep him out of the game despite its severity (9 stitches to an eye injury). I’m not sure James Weir will be fit to return and I’ve no idea if we’ve lost anyone to International duty.

So with that in mind I’ll predict a team from who I think is available, who needs a game and what I think might be worth a try, it’s highly likely the lineup will be incorrect but here goes.

Jacob / Blackett, Dalley, McCullough, Rudge/ Pearson, Rothwell, Daehli / GvV, Lawrence, Barmby
Subs: Coll, Hendrie, Ekangamene, Gorre, Byrne

Reasons: I think Luke Hendrie needs a rest and Jack Rudge needs a game so I’d swap them at RB. Ben Pearson deserves a start after performing well from the bench for two weeks and he has the skill to keep possession. Byrne isn’t receiving the service and hasn’t scored all season but we’re still scoring goals, that suggests to me we could do what we did for a large part of last season and play without a central striker. GvV is in the goals and ALL his goals for the club have been remarkably similar (rebounds from keeper and he’s there). Lawrence and Rothwell offer us opportunities from range and have the vision to create for others. Daehli likes to get into the box and shoot from the edge and Barmby offers us width on the right while Blacketts powerful overlapping runs offer width on the opposite flank. Our attacking options are many and varied which is great to see.

I very much doubt this will be the system McGuiness will opt for or the personnel he’ll choose to start but for what it’s worth I think it’s worth a try.

Either way, I can’t see past a dominant United performance tomorrow regardless of the team that’s selected. The lads are well capable of producing such a performance but the defensive frailties need to be addressed……starting tomorrow.

Prediction: An optimistic 3-0 win for the Reds with a much needed clean sheet.

Updates as usual will be provided during the game but I’ve changed my Twitter address to @Ian_Red_Rants so please search for me and follow me if you want the latest scores and updates.