United starlet tells Erik ten Hag the Man Utd role he wants ahead of pre-season audition

After an impressive loan spell at Nottingham Forest last season, Manchester United midfielder James Garner is aiming to force his way into manager Erik ten Hag’s plans.

James Garner believes he can play in a number of positions at Manchester United as he aims to break into Erik ten Hag’s first-team squad this season.

The 21-year-old is expected to feature for the first time in pre-season later this week after recovering from a minor injury, with United set to face Crystal Palace on Tuesday and Aston Villa at the weekend. While sidelined, Garner has watched fellow youngsters Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal impress during their opening friendlies.

United made it two wins from two in pre-season with a 4-1 success over Melbourne Victory on Friday thanks to goals from Scott McTominay, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, as well as an own-goal. This followed up an excellent 4-0 victory over Liverpool in Bangkok, with Jadon Sancho among the scorers in that game.

It has been a positive start to pre-season for the Red Devils and Garner is hoping he will have his own chance to shine, although the Palace game is set to come too early for the midfielder. When asked about where he wants to play for United next season, the Englishman claimed he is versatile enough to slot into many roles.

“Personally, I’m not too fussed if I play as a 6 or 8. Throughout the academy, I played as a deeper-lying 6. People maybe questioned whether I could score and create but when I got to the [Under] 21s, I showed I could also play box to box,” he said, per the Manchester Evening News.

“This season, I’ve played as a 6, 8 and in the No 10 position. For me, I enjoy 6 or 8.” Garner continued: “In the academy, I was always a centre-back at six or seven, but got moved into midfield and it went from there. I’m enjoying my time.”

James Garner spent the entirety of the 2021/22 season on loan at Nottingham Forest, helping the Reds back to the Premier League for the first time in 23 years. He made 49 appearances across all competitions, scoring four times and starting as Forest beat Huddersfield in the play-off final at Wembley.

Now, he will be keen to break into the first team at parent club United, but faces stiff competition. McTominay and Fred have impressed in pre-season, while Christian Eriksen’s arrival is expected to add further quality and experience to the Red Devils’ midfield.

Meanwhile, Frenkie de Jong continues to be linked with a move to Old Trafford, although the midfielder has been named in Barcelona’s pre-season tour of the USA, indicating he could be set to stay this summer. The Dutchman is Ten Hag’s number one transfer target and United have already secured the services of Eriksen, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia.

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