Youth team Player of the Year set for debut against Palace as Jose Mourinho saves top stars for Europa League final
ANGEL GOMES is set to become Manchester United’s youngest-ever Premier League player against Crystal Palace.
On Thursday he was named youngest winner of their Jimmy Murphy Youth Team Player of the Year award — at 16 years and nine months.
And on Sunday he should top off a special week by featuring against Palace on the final day.
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Manager Jose Mourinho has included him in his squad of kids — and is likely to give Gomes a second half run-out.
United’s current youngest Prem player is Federico Macheda, whose winner against Aston Villa in 2009 came on his debut at 17 years, seven months.
Gomes can play wide or as a No 10, and has scored 12 goals in 19 starts for the youth team this season.
He is one of a number of young players Mourinho will use as he saves his first team for Wednesday’s Europa League final against Ajax.
Yet the Special One admits his rookies are not ready for the challenge facing them.
Who are ya?
ZACHARY DEARNLEY (18): Winger is two-footed and impressed Jose Mourinho with a 25-minute cameo in Monday’s 3-2 Under-23 win over Tottenham.
AXEL TUANZEBE (19): The centre-back’s first start came at Arsenal and he has started both league games since then.
DEMETRI MITCHELL (20): Flying winger-turned-left-back has been on bench in recent weeks against Spurs and Southampton.
MATTY WILLOCK (20): Central midfielder has been a regular in Warren Joyce’s United Under-21s.
SCOTT McTOMINAY (20): Big midfielder is 6ft 4in and made his debut off the bench at Arsenal.
JOEL PEREIRA (20): The Portugese keeper is held in high regard by boss Mourinho and made his debut as a substitute in January’s 4-0 FA Cup fourth-round victory over Wigan.
JOSH HARROP (21): Hit a a hat-trick from midfield against Tottenham on Monday in what was the first reserves game that Mourinho has watched as United boss.
ANGEL GOMES (16): The cousin of former Red Nani is an attacker and has captained England’s Under-17 team.
Mourinho said: “No. One in the middle of an experienced structure, I think yes.
“But I think playing lots of them together, no!
“The only positive is to save my players for Wednesday — it’s the only positive thing.
“For the kids, it will be a great experience. It’s Old Trafford, the Premier League, Crystal Palace, last match of the season.
“It will be a big occasion for them and a good experience. But, I repeat, the best level for a young player is in an experienced team.
“So many kids at the same time, I don’t think is good, as there is a big difference in quality between them and Crystal Palace.”
Mourinho consulted with Academy chief Nicky Butt before picking his team for the game at Old Trafford.
He said: “Of course I spoke with Nicky and his opinion is important.
“Every time that they played at Old Trafford during the season, I’ve been there.
“They have trained with me many times. I know the kids and, of course, we try to bring the ones we think are more adapted to the needs of the team.”
Whether it proves to be an uncomfortable day for the kids or not, Mourinho will have no regrets about throwing them in at the deep end.
And he is still fuming about the fixture pile-up that United have faced this season.
Mourinho said: “Since January, we have played 37 matches and the Premier League is 38 matches.
“So we played a complete Premier League, minus one match, in five months.
“This is normally what a team does for a year — and we had four big injuries with surgeries that reduced the number of players we had.”
Paul Pogba will be one of the experienced members of Sunday’s team having missed training and the Southampton game following the recent death of his father.
Mourinho said: “Paul is fine. He’s strong guy, strong mentality.
“He’s learning how to live after his father passed away, but he’s strong and knows needs to play on Sunday because he hasn’t played and hasn’t trained for a long time.
“He needs minutes on the pitch, so plays against Palace.”