New manager Louis van Gaal is renowned for giving youth a chance so can the current crop force their way into his plans?
Has Patrice Evra’s expected departure for Juventus persuaded Louis van Gaal to take a look at the 20-year-old central defender who can also play left-back?
The Manchester-born Blackett has Football League experience from his loan spells at Blackpool and Birmingham City last season and is also capped at England Under-16, Under-17, Under-18 and Under-19 level.
Blackett’s versatility is further illustrated by him having also played in a wide left midfield role. Although yet to make a senior appearance, as the fourth central defender – alongside Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans – and the deputy left-back – to Luke Shaw – in the party, Blackett can expect to finally play for the first-team, after joining the club as an 8-year-old.
The central defender has the broadest experience of the youngsters Van Gaal has taken on tour, with three first-team appearances already and three loan spells at the age of 21. After stints with Leicester City, Derby County, and Blackburn Rovers, Keane also has caps for the England Under-21 and Under-19 teams plus the Republic of Ireland Under-17s, who he is eligible for through his father.
Keane was named by Giggs as a substitute for the Hull match at the end of last season and though he did not make it onto the pitch, this was a sign of how he is viewed at the club. As Giggs is now Van Gaal’s No2, Keane will hope for a chance to show if he can progress following the departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. His versatility - he began as a fullback - will also be noted by the new manager.
The twin brother of Michael is a 6ft 2in forward who has made just one senior appearance for United. Keane has played for Wigan Athletic and Queens Park Rangers on loan but failed to find the net for either in 14 appearances in total.
QPR manager Harry Redknapp stated he had signed him on a temporary basis last season because: “Will is a young player with fantastic potential. He’s got a good eye for goal, leads the line well and will provide us with good competition in the final third.”
This may be the “now or never” tour for the 21-year-old and his United career. He impressed under David Moyes during last summer’s tour - scoring the first goals of the Scot’s tenure - but was loaned to Birmingham City for the start of the season. There, he returned six goals in 13 Championship appearances, before managing three in 15 for Brighton and Hove Albion when playing for the south coast club in the second part of the season.
This suggests he can prosper at that level, but whether the Warrington-born attacking midfielder can break into a senior squad containing Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, Adnan Januzaj, and Shinji Kagawa is a different kind of challenge.
The 19-year-old from Bacup is a left-back who will also hope Evra’s impending departure might allow an opportunity to try and force himself into the fringes of the first-team and make a senior debut in, say, a Capital One Cup tie.
James went on loan to Carlisle United last summer but after injuring himself in a Capital One Cup game in August returned to United, having made only two appearances, the other being in a league match.
For inspiration James can look to his elder brother, Matty, who will be playing Premier League football next season for Leicester City, and who was also at United as a youngster.