Man United first team debut of young striker Ethan Wheatley, impressive physique

Manchester United keen to ‘strengthen academy to first team pathway’ after landmark Ethan Wheatley debut

Erik ten Hag believes it his “responsibility to build on the legacy” of Manchester United’s youth graduates after Ethan Wheatley’s first-team debut.

Wheatley, 18, became the 250th United academy graduate to make his first-team debut for the club after coming off the bench in Wednesday night’s 4-2 home victory over Sheffield United.

The striker has been a regular in the United Under-21 and Under-18 sides this season and recently scored a hat-trick in the latter’s 9-1 victory over Liverpool Under-18s earlier this month.

Harry Amass, 17, and 18-year-olds Habeeb Ogunneye and Louis Jackson have also been named in United’s recent matchday squads after impressing in youth teams.

United have historically had a stream of academy graduates in their first-team squad with their European Cup successes in 1968, 1999 and 2008 all having multiple players formed at the club enjoying success.

Current first-team players Marcus Rashford, Kobbie Mainoo, Scott McTominay, Jonny Evans, Tom Heaton and Omari Forson are among those who progressed through United’s youth system.

“Everyone at Manchester United should be very proud of our record of producing so many players with the quality and character to represent this incredible club,” Ten Hag said after Wheatley’s debut.

“All of us at Carrington feel the responsibility to build on the legacy of the Busby Babes, the Class of 92 and the many others who have contributed to the club’s fantastic history.

“Strengthening the pathway between the academy and first team has been one of my priorities as manager, and Ethan is the latest example of this process working well.

“The opportunity will always be open to those with the right talent and winning attitude to pull on the red shirt.”

United return to action on Saturday with a home match against Burnley in the Premier League.

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