James Garner has proven time and time again that he is a level above academy football.
The 18-year-old has starred for Neil Wood’s u23 side this season, and again shone as United made it three consecutive wins in the Premier League 2 away to Stoke City on Monday evening.
The Reds held on for a 3-2 victory after initially taking a 3-0 lead, and Garner was again the key figure within the side.
The midfielder has an exceptional goal record for a midfielder at u23 level and netted twice at the Bet365 stadium.
His first was a fantastic header as he rose highest from a corner, which he had won after forcing a save from the goalkeeper with a thunderous shot from outside the box.
Garner’s second, United’s third, exemplified the talent that the club have within their youth ranks. Angel Gomes, who is out of contract this summer, played an inch-perfect reverse over the top through ball to Garner, who finished delicately past the on-rushing goalkeeper.
Although he is still only 18, Garner needs to continue his development next season by stepping up and it is clear that he will not yet have a regular role in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first-team.
He has made just three starts for Solskjaer’s side this season, all coming in the Europa League.
What has been frustrating so far under Solskjaer is that the Norwegian has failed to use the loan market to progress his younger players.
Garner is at a stage where he is ready for first-team football, and while this may not be at United initially, he could benefit greatly from a season elsewhere, whether it be in the Premier League or Championship.
He is an exciting first-team prospect and a goal-contributing midfielder that our manager should be keeping more than a watchful eye on.
How do you solve a problem like James Garner? I wish he went on loan.
Absolutely banging goals in the reserves, but the form of our senior #mufc midfielders is very good. Not really much space for him right now.
Can he force his way in? Academy football way too easy for him. pic.twitter.com/pPZFxOzonT
— Rich (@UtdPotential) March 3, 2020
— Stevie G's Red Card (@steviegsredcard) March 3, 2020
United need another midfielder in the summer but need to keep James Garner in mind. Outgrew U23 football almost as soon as he first played at that level https://t.co/ohDzFPouju https://t.co/ZFwOW3gmDE
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) March 3, 2020
•James Garner is fantastic and should be the next one to make the move to the first team.
•If Angel Gomes signs a new contract we need to make sure we’re giving him first team game time.
•Tuanzebe and TFM looked great.
•Chong played excellent again, just needs confidence. https://t.co/CNcMmsM31s
— ɹouuoƆ ʎppɐԀ (@UtdPaddy) March 3, 2020
Someone has to tell Ole he needs to play James Garner and Angel Gomes should be used more often than Lingard and Andreas Pereira,those guys are 🤡 https://t.co/96ltpKsOzH
— 🤴🏽A.Adekunle (@iamkunleexx) March 3, 2020
James Garner is the best central midfield prospect #mufc have had since Paul Pogba.
— ً (@utdrobbo) March 2, 2020
James Garner has been directly involved in 0.91 goals per game for Man Utd U23s this season.
Ridiculous record from midfield. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/6izVHT3SLc
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) March 3, 2020